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Tourist Fraudsters Lose Appeal Against Jail Sentences

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Christchurch, March 5 NZPA - A district court judge was entitled to consider New Zealand's vulnerability to credit card fraudsters when he jailed a Singaporean couple, a Christchurch High Court judge ruled today.

Justice John Fogarty upheld the two year two month jail terms on Suliaman Bin Haron, 50, and his wife Saerah Binte Men, 49, after being convicted of multiple credit card fraud and conspiracy charges.

The jail terms were challenged by the couple's defence counsel Christopher Persson who said they were out of line with other fraud sentences, and excessive considering the scale of their involvement.

But Justice Fogarty would not accept that the pair, who came to New Zealand and jointly committed 60 fraud offences, were "innocents abroad".

They had been offered the trip here by other people, and Mr Persson said it was common in Singapore for people to buy items on behalf of other people.

But Justice Fogarty said they would have realised quickly that they had become involved in a sophisticated criminal scam.

They bought high value goods worth $66,000 and attempted to buy other goods worth about $100,000 in offending in Auckland and Queenstown.

They were arrested at Christchurch Airport as the flew in with another 20 scam credit cards. The goods fraudulently obtained were not recovered.

Justice Fogarty said that Christchurch District Court Judge Colin Doherty had been entitled to recognise the vulnerability of the commercial sector to a particular kind of fraud and take a stern approach at the sentencing.

Judge Doherty had started at a term of four years but had given reductions not only for the couple's guilty pleas but for the problems they would face in jail without family support, and with difficulties relating to such matters as ethnicity, religion, and food.

The judge's reasoning in imposing these deterrent sentences had not been manifestly wrong and he dismissed the appeal.

Mr Persson told the court that the couple -- jailed in December after four months in custody on remand -- had already been served with removal orders and would be deported at the end of their sentences.

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