Cancer fake avoids jail over Trade Me scam

PAY UP: Megan Kelly was ordered to pay more than $12,000 as part of her sentence imposed at the Hamilton District Court yesterday.
PAY UP: Megan Kelly was ordered to pay more than $12,000 as part of her sentence imposed at the Hamilton District Court yesterday.

A fraudster who faked cancer has narrowly avoided jail after duping a man out of $30,800 in bogus iPhone sales.

Megan Anne Kelly, 37, smiled and winked at two supporters in the public gallery throughout her appearance in the Hamilton District Court yesterday.

It was Kelly's second appearance in court in recent years after she was sentenced to community work in 2010 for defrauding her employers of about $3000 after faking that she had cancer and taking sick leave.

In January this year, Kelly - a former Waikato premier and Waikato under-19 netball coach - pleaded guilty to her latest charge of causing a loss of $30,800 by deception after the fake sale of the iPhones to the victim between December 12, 2012, and March 13, 2013. The court heard Kelly had previously completed transactions with the victim through online trading website Trade Me.

However, Kelly contacted him directly via email, saying she could sell him 38 iPhones for $30,800.

The victim put the cash in Kelly's account but the phones never arrived.

The victim asked for the money back, so Kelly sent a cheque but it was dishonoured by her bank because of a lack of funds.

Kelly's lawyer, Jarom Keung, tried to persuade Judge Barney Thomas that Trade Me - which provided a victim impact statement - was not a victim at all, as the offending incident was done privately. The judge replied that if it was not for Trade Me, the pair would never have met and been able to engage in contact outside of the company.

"The loss Trade Me has suffered has probably been far greater than their investigation costs [into the incident].

"It has undermined their ability to vouch for sellers on their site . . . it's not investigative [reparation] costs but harm to their reputation," the judge said.

In the end, the judge ruled it was a moot point as Keung revealed Kelly would be unable to pay much of the debt as earlier publication by media of details about the offending had been read by Kelly's personal training clients who had pulled their contracts. Keung said Kelly could pay only $50 a week, depending on the sentence handed down, but said no money would be forthcoming if she was jailed. "But given community detention she says that will need to take time to build up her reputation again and clientele. She has lost a lot of her contracts." Keung said the fraud was not deliberate as she had been contacted by her overseas supplier that they were sending the iPhones.

However, they did not arrive and she spent the money.

In sentencing Kelly to five months of home detention and 300 hours of community work, the judge said he also had to take into account her previous history - which includes 10 convictions for theft - and that she could not pay back as much money as previously indicated. The judge labelled her actions as "very ruthless" after spending the victim's money with complete disregard.

Kelly was ordered to pay reparation of $12,250 at $50 a week.

While serving her sentence, she was also ordered to undertake any drug or alcohol counselling required, and was banned from using any electronic device capable of accessing the internet.

Waikato Times