‘Mule’ sen­tenced for bank fraud backed by syn­di­cate

The Dominion Post - - News -

A ‘‘mule’’ for a fraud ring man­aged to get $30,000 us­ing forged iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at North Is­land banks, but had to give most of the money to the heads of the Welling­ton crim­i­nal ring.

Abby Louise MacDon­ald, 43, a sick­ness ben­e­fi­ciary, was ar­rested as part of a po­lice op­er­a­tion into forged firearms li­cences, 18+ cards and pass­ports.

She would use fake ID to get money from vic­tims’ bank ac­counts.

Welling­ton District Court judge Peter Hobbs said yes­ter­day that she was at the bot­tom of the pyra­mid struc­ture of what the po­lice had called a crim­i­nal syn­di­cate.

She used cheques from a cheque­book stolen from a Welling­ton of­fice block last year, as well as forged firearms li­cences, but was some­times un­able to an­swer the security ques­tions at banks and had to leave with­out any money.

She was driven to banks in Waikanae, Levin, Cam­bridge and Ro­torua by other mem­bers of the group.

The judge said she was un­der some pres­sure from the group, who made threats and held a debt over her head.

MacDon­ald pleaded guilty to us­ing doc­u­ments to get a fi­nan­cial ad­van­tage, us­ing forged doc­u­ments and at­tempt­ing to use forged doc­u­ments.

The judge or­dered her to do 120 hours com­mu­nity work, a year’s su­per­vi­sion and to re­pay $3320 in repa­ra­tion, which was all she had been al­lowed to keep out of the $30,000 taken.

Lawyer Geneva Lowe said MacDon­ald had been at a low point in her life and the ma­jor­ity of the money went to the ring­leaders, with only a small per­cent­age go­ing to the mules. Three other men have not yet pleaded to charges aris­ing from the po­lice op­er­a­tion.

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