15 months for rip-off – Golf club treasurer blames online dating scam

THE former treasurer of the New Norfolk Golf Club has been given a 15-month home detention order after stealing almost $29,000 over a year from the organisation.

Anthony James Hill pleaded guilty to a number of counts of computer-related fraud and fraud after he said he was caught up in an online dating scam.

Hill resigned from the position for health reasons in May 2018 and another person took over the role and reviewed the club’s financial records.

It was discovered that the club’s debit card had been used on various websites and EFTPOS machines.

“You used those funds to pay for your hospital and medical bills, airline travel and other travel costs and goods and services not authorised by the club,’’ Justice Gregory Geason said.
“In addition you used the MyState debit card at various automatic teller machines in and around Hobart to withdraw cash for your personal use.
“In about August 2018 once the extent of the loss was known you were confronted about the matter.
You admitted having used the club’s money as your own and you said that you had been battling.
“You agreed to repay the money when your house was sold, however, when a representative of the club attempted to place a caveat on your property, a course you had agreed to, it was discovered that you were an undischarged bankrupt and another creditor had already placed a caveat on the house.
“This had been in place since 2012 when you had been declared bankrupt.
“The money you have taken remains unpaid.”

Justice Gleason said Hill told police he became involved with a Spanish woman online in 2018, who he did not name, and gave her details of the club’s bank accounts.
“You told police that this woman had conducted all of the electronic transfers from the club’s bank accounts and you claimed that she withdrew those amounts in cash using the one of those cards,” the judge said.
“The state does not accept that explanation in relation to the electronic transfers, and your bank statements reveal that the money was used by you to pay for general and household expenses including your mortgage.
“The substance of the plea in mitigation identifies you as the victim of a dating scam. “Apparently you met a woman online some time ago, and began engaging online with her.

You hoped to bring her to Tasmania at some point. “She apparently requested money from you on a regular basis, and you expected to be repaid. “She told you that she had been left gold by her grandfather, and that she needed money for the purposes of obtaining that gold, and paying insurance.”

Justice Gleason also told Hill: “ You too are a victim – a victim of the manipulation of others. At the same time your participation in that activity with this person was directed towards ultimately satisfying your own needs for company, and a relationship.
“That need is a human one, and I view it empathetically at that level. However, such conduct cannot be condoned, and requires a penalty which deters others.’’