Beneficiary obtained $1550 in iPhone hoax

A woman on an invalid's benefit who was in need of cash auctioned three iPhones on Trade Me.

The only problem was the iPhones did not exist.

Helane Marie Percy, 39, of Gisborne, listed the phones for sale on the website last September.

The auctions closed on September 24, 25 and 26 and Percy received $1550.

"The complainants waited patiently for their iPhones, but they never arrived," prosecutor Ollie Outtrim told the Palmerston North District Court yesterday.

"[Percy] stated that she was in a bad place and needed the money so she could get away, also that she regretted what she had done."

Defence lawyer Peter Coles said Percy still lived in Gisborne and wanted to return there as soon as possible to have surgery on an injured shoulder.

At the time of the auctions, Percy was living in an "abusive" situation. "She wanted to get out but didn't have the financial means to do so."

Judge Les Atkins noted that Percy had convictions for similar offences back in 1995, for which she received periodic detention.

On three charges of obtaining by deception, Percy was sentenced to 180 hours' community work and ordered to repay the three people who "won" the auctions.

Manawatu Standard