Gambling addict ripped off couple's life savings

Last updated 07:52 15/03/2013

Relevant offers


Auckland gang man charged with importing drugs worth $3.4 million Assault before security van cash heist at Christchurch McDonald's Dog stoush sparks home invasion Wellington retailers rally against Christmas shoplifters Wellington child pornography offender discharged without conviction Police investigate whether disabled man's driving controls caused crash Meremere man pleads guilty to using a slug gun while drunk Financial adviser acquitted of assaulting former cricket mate during beach weekend Police seek information on alleged Wellington burglar Jail sentence for teen who harassed teacher on Facebook 'manifestly excessive'

A Canadian visitor cynically scammed an elderly Taupo couple out of nearly $150,000 of their life savings to feed a gambling addiction.

J-Michael Mackett, 53, arrived in Taupo in June 2011 seeking work and immediately befriended the elderly couple after he had been sponsored into a two-year work permit by a Kinleith company.

Soon afterward, he began asking the wife for money. She initially lent Mackett $550 to pay for a car licence and was assured he would repay it.

Mackett said he had money in a Canadian pension fund, and produced documents from three investment banks to back up his claim. They were all fakes, Taupo District Court was told yesterday.

Between July 2011 and last April, the couple, who have permanent name suppression, lent Mackett a total of $148,600. It was their entire life savings.

In July 2011, Mackett got a Westpac Bank Visa Gold credit card with a $15,000 limit after ticking the online application form box that he was a permanent New Zealand resident. The card would not have been issued to a non-permanent resident. He ended up owing $23,356 on it.

Between October and November 2011, he used the counterfeit bank documents and the names of two false relatives to obtain money from Westpac Bank, which has sought $67,205 reparation.

Lawyer Steve Clarkson said Mackett's offending stemmed from a severe gambling addiction that consumed his life. "He was caught in a spiral to get money."

In sentencing Mackett to three years' jail on two representative charges of obtaining by deception, and using a document for pecuniary advantage, totalling 37 offences, Judge James Weir said he had "cynically exploited" the couple, who were helping him to settle in Taupo, in a determined effort to scam and bleed them dry.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content