$50k Trade Me scam to buy drugs

ROB KIDD
Last updated 11:46 30/11/2012
Elmira Rafiee
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax Media
ELMIRA RAFIEE: Sold iPhones and iPads on Trade Me that were never delivered.

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A Trade Me scammer who conned customers out of nearly $50,000 has been sentenced to nine months home detention.

Elmira Rafiee, 25, was charged with 57 dishonesty offences after selling cut-price iPhones and iPads that buyers never received.

She used websites Trade Me and Sella to contact her victims directly pretending to be selling products they were interested in.

Forty-five people fell for the scam and Rafiee pocketed $48,332, in part to fund a drug habit. The highest single amount paid was $1100 for an iPad.

When caught last year, Rafiee admitted the charges and was given time to raise the money to repay the complainants.

She came to Auckland District Court today able to pay $14,500, which her lawyer Mark Edgar said was "the accumulation of a lot of scrimping and scraping".

He proposed she pay $100 a week through a job at a beauty salon to take care of the balance, provided the judge allowed her a community-based sentence.

Rafiee was supported in court by family even though her lawyer said she had brought shame on them among the Iranian community.

Judge David Harvey remarked on the high level of premeditation which involved buying courier bags and providing tracking numbers to "the hapless purchasers".

And the victims were not limited to those who fell for the scam.

The credibility of the specific websites and the entire online marketplace was tarnished, he said.

Judge Harvey said the aggravating factors of computer fraud were often overlooked by the court.

"There's a level of dissociation between the offender and the victim," he said.

"With real world fraud it takes a certain level of grit because you've got to eyeball the victim."

Upon sentencing her to home detention, the judge said he hoped the six years of repayments would be a constant reminder of Rafiee's offending.

He also tacked on 200 hours of community work and banned her from the internet for the first six months of her sentence.

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