Facebook crook gets jail warning

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 28/05/2014

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A Palmerston North woman who conned people out of hundreds of dollars by offering to sell Beyonce concert tickets and iPhones that did not exist has been warned she could go to prison if she offends again.

Anna Louise Lahey, 24, was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday on six charges of obtaining by deception.

From last October until January, Lahey used Facebook auction pages on six occasions to offer goods for sale.

The pages worked like Trade Me but did not have any security settings or guarantees for people using them.

Twice she sold tickets to a Beyonce concert, while on another four occasions she sold iPhones.

But despite being paid a total of $1329 by buyers, she did not give them the goods.

In court yesterday, defence lawyer Phillip Drummond said the general public would be concerned about internet deals going astray like this.

"[Online dealing] relies on an element of trust.

"If they can't supply the goods, they need to refund the money."

Lahey had "no plausible excuse" for the offending but knew she had to pay up.

Drummond said she could not pay the money but her mother - who was present in court - would stump up the reparation in the meantime.

With three dishonesty convictions to her name, Lahey knew she could end up in prison if she stole again.

Since the offending, her anxiety had gone up due to the grief she had been given on social media, he said.

Judge Gregory Ross said any adverse publicity was simply a consequence of the offending.

She had purposely gone out to offend, as she had sold the items at sharp prices without owning them, he said.

"How can you possibly sell something you haven't got, unless you mean to defraud someone?

"That is not trading; that is just a crime. It is a fraud from the start."

The offending had caused her victims stress, he said.

"They pursued you, phoned you . . . but you gave a line of excuses. One time you said you were in hospital but you weren't."

The judge sentenced Lahey to 125 hours' community work, four months' community detention and ordered her to pay $1329 in reparation.

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- Manawatu Standard

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