A blackmail and fraud victim has had his life ruined by the activities of a conwoman who made him feel a fool.
Diane Louise Boyd, 47, formerly of Southland, repeatedly conned the man with tales of illness, burglary and offers to help him pay his business and personal accounts.
The High Court at Christchurch was yesterday told the man had lost $80,000 but his victim-impact report described much wider effects.
Justice Fogarty referred to the man's life being "significantly destroyed" after he made contact with Boyd through the NZ Dating website.
It was not just the amount of money the victim had lost but he had lost his business and his ability to live independently - he had moved back in with his mother - and he had lost his self-esteem, and had difficulty maintaining social relationships with his peers.
"It is because he feels such a fool," Justice Fogarty said when he imposed a jail term of four years and two months on Boyd for a total of 120 charges.
Boyd had admitted one charge of blackmail, and others of obtaining by deception, dishonestly using a document, two of theft by a person in a special relationship, causing a loss by deception, theft, and theft of a motor vehicle.
The court was told she met the victim online and then convinced him to provide her with furniture to replace items lost in a burglary, and to give her access to his computer so she could help pay his accounts.
A long list of offending followed, including using online banking, bankcards and cheques dishonestly to obtain money.
When Boyd found what police called "risque" photographs of the man on his computer, she turned to blackmail. She admitted a charge of threatening him with disclosure of nude photographs and allegations of insurance fraud to make him hand over money and property.
He ended up bankrupt.
She conned another victim who lost $48,000, which affected his credit rating. The conwoman's activities mostly took place in Invercargill but further charges allege offending in Ashburton, Christchurch and Richmond, south of Nelson.
The judge told Boyd: "Reading the list of charges does not do justice to the grief you have caused to the victims.
"You have essentially taken advantage of men who thought they were entering into a romantic and trusting relationship."
Boyd was described by defence counsel Serina Bailey as having a borderline personality disorder.
She was well known to mental health services.
Justice Fogarty described her as having "a propensity to mislead others and to fabricate circumstances to suit herself". But a psychologist had concluded Boyd did not suffer from a mental illness.
Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said reparation totalled more than $100,000 but she had no information that Boyd had any assets, and making an order seemed futile.
Mrs Bailey said Boyd was a beneficiary who had no assets.
She was unskilled and had no immediate job prospects after being freed from jail.
Justice Fogarty told Boyd that a psychologist had found she was responsible for her actions and capable of change. She was likely to benefit from treatment.
He urged her to get control of her gambling problem "so that you don't cause this kind of harm to other men in the future".
He adjourned the making of a reparation order for the Crown to make further inquiries but said he believed it was futile making orders in situations in which there would be no prospect of any significant payment being made.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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