Case highlights how fraudsters target family

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 17:57 14/04/2014

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A woman who spent more than $1 million of her sister's cash and used her Pauanui bach to get banks loans, has been found guilty on theft charges.

Michelle Roberta Innes was found guilty in the Auckland District Court of 10 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Innes' sister was based in the United States and between 1999 and 2008 began sending back money to New Zealand to be banked and managed by Innes.

The SFO told the court that Innes began spending the money from 2001.

Innes was found guilty of all charges brought by the SFO, including theft, theft by a person in a special relationship, and theft by a person required to account.

The Pauanui property was bought on behalf of Innes' sister about 2000. It was under Innes' legal title, but only as a trustee with her sister as the sole recipient.

The SFO said this property was used as security for more than one bank mortgage.

SFO director Julie Read said the case showed fraudsters often targeted close family and friends where there was a trusted relationship.

"It is important to ensure that there are proper checks and controls when you entrust your money to others no matter what your relationship with that person might be," Read said.

Innes has been remanded on bail and her sentencing is set down for June.

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