Fraudster abandons bride-to-be
William Harding told his fiancee he was popping out to the dairy.
But the ageing conman was actually going on the run, abandoning his betrothed with thousands of dollars of debt, just like the other women he had charmed, ripped off and discarded.
Harding celebrated his 78th birthday in prison on Monday, awaiting sentencing in August on multiple fraud charges.
The full extent of his frauds can now be revealed, after Stuff was granted permission to look through court documents.
The police summaries paint a picture of Harding as a man with a penchant for taking care of himself by deceiving elderly women, whose lives he charmed himself into.
Two fraud charges related to two women with whom he had developed relationships in 2015.
He said he had inherited property from a recently-deceased brother, but needed money to ship the property from Dunedin to Whanganui before selling it.
But there was no dead brother and no property to be shipped.
The women loaned him a total of $9800, and he used the money to purchase jewellery for a different woman.
He was still in Whanganui in 2016 and engaged to be married when he committed his next fraud. Shockingly, the fraud was against his fiancee. The court documents did not make it clear if his fiancee was the woman he purchased jewellery for, but they do show Harding had a modus operandi when committing fraud.
He and his fiancee were living with one of her children at a property that had been put on the market.
Harding announced he was going to buy a house for he and his bride-to-be to live in.
He said a sibling had died, leaving him an inheritance to finance the purchase.
The real estate agent the couple dealt with knew Harding was providing all the money, so left Harding’s fiancee’s name off the paperwork.
But when Harding went to sign the sale and purchased agreement in January 2016, he announced he wanted his fiancee’s name on the paperwork because they were getting married.
The real estate agent found this odd, saying the fiancee had no money to contribute to the purchase.
The fiancee also had her reservations, but signed the agreement after Harding insisted it had to be that way.
A deposit had to be paid by February 2, 2016, and the remainder paid a week later.
On the day the deposit was due, Harding said he was going to the dairy.
He never returned, leaving his fiancee responsible for the purchase because she had signed the agreement.
She had to pay $6000 to break the agreement, and another $1800 on lawyers’ fees. Harding then went on the run. He was eventually found in Levin.