A Mexican backpacker was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail for a year-long spree of credit card fraud and dishonesty against an ex-girlfriend, friends and flatmates.
Marco Antonio Lopez-Castro, 31, appeared before Judge Kevin Phillips in the Queenstown District Court charged with fraud, two counts of theft, three counts of accessing a computer system dishonestly and 15 counts of dishonestly using documents, namely credit cards, credit card details and a gym pass, between June last year and last month.
Judge Phillips said Lopez-Castro's modus operandi appeared to involve befriending people while studying, flatting or travelling, and then ripping them off.
His offending was premeditated, deceptive and appalling, he said.
"I am firmly of the belief that you are a thoroughly dishonest man. I do not see remorse for anyone other than yourself, remorse that you got caught."
Lopez-Castro met a girlfriend at a Rotorua language school, then moved to Queenstown, where he worked as a kitchen hand, a labourer and a packer.
However, he told his girlfriend that he needed money because he was jobless, and between June and November she paid him varying amounts.
He told her he loved her and, as a couple, they needed to support each other. Then, in September, he told her he was dying and needed to borrow more money, up to $1000, for medical bills. She had no funds so borrowed money from her friends to send to him in Queenstown.
In October, she sent $2500 and overall she lent him more than $8000.
"You saw her as a mark.
"It appears to me that you have lied and minimised your involvement, always had an excuse and always tried to blame other people," Judge Phillips said.
Lopez-Castro, the leaseholder of an Anderson Heights property in Queenstown, also recorded details of flatmates' credit cards and an unknown person's card.
He used a flatmate's laptop to buy phone credit and clothing worth hundreds of dollars.
After finding a credit card in a Queenstown bar he tried to buy a $1000 cellphone but the transaction was declined. He then bought $589 worth of clothes.
An attempt to buy a $1600 Apple laptop was declined and he also found a Queenstown Gym membership card and offered free membership. A fraudulent transaction was reported to police and officers arrived at his flat with a search warrant on July 11.
Lopez-Castro, who will be deported to Mexico when he has completed his sentence, was also ordered to pay $8300 reparation.
- © Fairfax NZ News