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  • Writer's pictureShaun Pascoe

Case Study: Prosecution Withdraws Charge Following Romance Scam

Updated: Mar 21

Charge


Court

Dandenong Magistrates' Court - March 2024


Facts of case

Our client had commenced an online relationship with a person he believed to be a woman called 'Victoria'. Over time Victoria, (who may or may not have been a woman) coaxed our client into believing he was in an intimate relationship with her (albeit a long-distance relationship). Veronica had indicated that she lived in Perth.


Over many months Victoria made many requests for money from our client and on each occasion our client had dutifully paid. On many occasions, she promised to travel to Melbourne to meet him in person and even provided fake airline ticket bookings. The promised meeting never eventuated and our client never met Victoria in a face-to-face meeting.


After approximately 12 months of online courting, in December 2021 our client received $18,000 into his bank account. In the weeks preceding that transfer, Veronica deceived him that it was a legitimate transfer of funds belonging to her. The funds had been obtained by fraud perpetrated on two other entities (a business and a customer of that business), and our client was unaware of this activity. The funds were paid into our client's account through the misdirection of payment brought about by a fraudulent invoice.


The fraudulent transaction was identified when the customer did not receive the furniture items she had paid for. The bank account of the fraudulent invoice was identified and our client was interviewed by police and subsequently charged with Negligently dealing with proceeds of crime.


Charge withdrawn during summary case conference discussions

It was evident that our client had been a victim of a romance scam. We produced bank transactions, and over 12 months of text communication which indicated the extent to which he had been ensnared in the scam and the thousands of dollars that had been swindled from him.


We argued that in all the circumstances, the prosecution should be discontinued in the public interest, and upon consideration of all of the material we presented on behalf of our client during summary case conference negotiations, the relevant prosecutor agreed and the charge was withdrawn.


Our client had never been charged with a criminal offence and was obviously thrilled with this outcome.

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