Coromandel man denies $70k fraud

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014

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A Coromandel man accused of taking more than $70,000 from people looking for jobs in Australia, told his assistant to also use fake names on correspondence.

A trial began in the Hamilton District Court yesterday for Frank Allan Yeates, 61, who pleaded not guilty to three charges of making a false statement as a promoter and one charge of carrying on business fraudulently.

The charges relate to Yeates knowingly being party to AAAjobforyou NZ Ltd and carrying on a business with intent to defraud members of the public and making a false statement with intent to deceive persons on the company's website that it had mining industry positions available when this was not the case.

Two other charges of making a false statement relate to Yeates allegedly asserting funds would be paid into a Crosbie and Associates Ltd trust account when this was not the case and asserting it was part of P F and DTM International Group.

All charges are related to alleged offending between February 28 and June 30, 2012.

But Yeates says he is being falsely accused.

Yeates held 11 seminars in Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua and Papakura for people hoping to work in Australian mines.

Crown prosecutor Rebecca Mann said that prior to his company being incorporated in March 28, 2012, Yeates had already hired the services of Auckland graphic designer Vivian Burgess, of iVivid Works.

Ms Burgess was asked to create a logo by Yeates for AAAjobforyou NZ Ltd, before being asked to set up an email address and website.

Prior to incorporating his company, Yeates spent $18,000 putting advertisements in various newspapers around the North Island with information about the seminars.

Mrs Mann said that when people arrived at the seminars they were informed of a "four-stage process".

Stage one cost $390 and involved Yeates giving their curriculum vitae a "polish", so it looked attractive to prospective mining employers.

Stage two was the setting up of an interview with an Australian mining company at a cost of $300.

Stage three was a Skype job interview with the employer for another $300, and the final stage four was $1900 and included flights and accommodation on the Gold Coast.

An Australian mining company director will this week give evidence how he told Yeates he did not want anything to do with his business and said even they had trouble finding work for people.

Mrs Mann said some people were dubious about the costs - which were paid by mobile eftpos at the seminars - with some paying and others walking away.

Yeates is accused of telling people at the seminars the money would instantly be deposited into a trust account of Crosbie and Associates.

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However, Yeates had only opened another suffix account on his personal Kiwibank account to which he deposited takings from the seminars.

The first seminar was held on March 16 and 17. Money did not start being transferred to Crosbie and Associates until June 7.

In total, 148 people paid $390 from attending the stage one seminars, totalling more than $57,000. A further 58 people paid $300 for the stage two seminar. Nobody reached stages three or four.

About $72,000 was obtained by Yeates from the seminars, "the bulk of which" was paid into his own account. Another $29,000 was paid into the Crombie and Associates bank account.

Ms Burgess, the first Crown witness, yesterday said she asked Yeates what PF and DTM International Group was, to which he laughed and replied it was an acronym for "pay Frank and Dee the money". He later told Ms Burgess Dee was an "Australian backer" of the company.

She also said Yeates stopped her from using her own name on email correspondence to clients by stating "it's not good for anonymity if anything goes pear-shaped".

Seven fake names were used, including that of Barbara Munro, Tiffany Taylor and Jane Chapman.

Waikato police fraud investigator Detective Simon Eckersley will later testify that if Yeates had paid all of his outgoings, including the services of Ms Burgess and hireage of seminar rooms, there would have been a shortfall.

Yeates' lawyer, Lyn Walkington, said the jury had to keep two things in mind: "Did AAAjobforyou have jobs in the mining industry and were there certain events that occurred that were out of his control that have led to Frank Yeates being falsely accused."

Yeates trial is set down to continue into early next week before a jury of seven women and five men overseen by Judge David Ruth.

- Waikato Times

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