Guilty plea for false invoice scam

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 14:35 26/07/2013

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The Serious Fraud Office believes cases of advertising invoice fraud have ''dropped off remarkably'' since it led a crackdown on an alleged magazine scam last October.

The crackdown, dubbed Operation Edit, resulted in six arrests. One of those arrested, Auckland resident Elizabeth Dow, 47, pleaded guilty in the Wellington District Court today to five charges of dishonestly taking or using a document.

She faces a maximum penalty of up to 7 years' jail.

Dow was convicted for her part in selling advertising in magazines that were either never printed, or had grossly exaggerated circulation.

The magazines were sometimes printed in very small numbers, just enough to placate advertisers who wanted to see their advertisements.

The scam allegedly generated up to $1.6 million over five years.

SFO acting chief executive Simon McArley said news of the arrests appeared to have been a stiff deterrent.

''From at least the anecdotal evidence we have seen, people have taken heed of that warning and we haven't seen the complaints coming through the Commerce Commission that would tend to say the activity was still widespread.''

Operation Edit involved 67 staff  from the SFO, the Police, Commerce Commission, Organised and Financial Crime Unit, Customs and Inland Revenue.

McArley said the agencies were still working together as they continued to prosecute the other defendants.

One defendant, Anthony John Hendon is yet to enter a plea. The three remaining defendants, Noelene Kay Banton, James Stephen Burns, and Johannes Hendrik Maria Middledorp, have been committed for trial.

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