Australia’s biggest fraud cases revealed
Some siphoned millions from their employers to splash the cash on luxury lifestyles, while others defrauded Centrelink. These are Australia's biggest fraud cases.
Sydney businesswoman Melissa Caddick vanished hours after federal investigators raided her $6-million Dover Heights home as part of an investigation into the misappropriation of clients' funds.
About $20 million in clients' funds passed through Ms Caddick's accounts between January 2018 and September 2020.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) began investigating the 49-year-old last year after a tip-off that she was using someone else's financial services licence.
A leading private investigator with a career hunting fugitives told The Daily Telegraph last week he believes the missing accused fraudster has radically changed her appearance to live incognito.
Subramaniam siphoned $45 million out of her employer ING Holdings' accounts during her time as a senior accountant with the business.
She would reportedly spend millions of dollars in a single lunch hour. Over five years, her shopping sprees included 600 pieces of jewellery, 200 Chanel products, 60 pieces of Mont Blanc stationery and $18 million worth of prestige properties in Sydney.
In 2012, Subramaniam was jailed for 15 years over what is believed to be the largest case of fraud by one woman in Australian history.
JOSHUA MEREDITH KITSON
Kitson told a psychiatrist he had a "pretty girlfriend, a Porsche and an expensive apartment" but those things still didn't make him happy.
So allegedly, as general manager of Plutus Payroll - Joshua conspired to defraud the Australian Taxation Office of more than $105 million - the biggest tax fraud in Australian history.
The scheme would see clients transfer their gross payroll monies to Plutus with the expectation the company would then pay their employees' wages and superannuation, and the tax office.
Instead, Plutus would transfer the money on to a complex web of companies it subcontracted - siphoning off the money meant for the tax office back to the scheme's co-conspirators.
He was jailed for a maximum of four-and-a-half years in 2019.
KERRY ANN KEEN
Keen was busted for stealing a minimum of $340,000 from the Catholic Church.
The mother-of-two from Adelaide carried out the crime over the course of for years while working for a security company that was contacted by the Church to transport, count and bank weekly donations from parishioners.
"The stolen money financed a lifestyle involving expensive overseas travel, expenditure on indulgent or luxurious consumer goods and activities," SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwan said during her sentencing last year.
She was jailed for five years, with a non-parole period of three years.
Former high roller Jocelyn Zakhour conned almost $800,000 from men she met on Tinder while living at Melbourne's Crown Casino.
Zakhour conned men who thought she was their girlfriend out of money that she said was to fund a blueberry farm.
She told police it was her victims' fault and she didn't feel sorry for them because they were "so stupid".
The 41-year-old was jailed last September for four years and six months with two years and eight months non-parole for her "false promises", County Court of Victoria judge Gregory Lyons said.
Ayad was receiving the Newstart payment and carer allowance all while operating a business with a multimillion-dollar turnover.
Subsequently, he defrauded Centrelink of more than $110,00 through failing to declare any income he received while claiming the payments.
Perth's District Court heard Ayad - who came to Australia in 2004 after fleeing persecution in Iraq - used most of the money to fund his drinking and gambling problems.
The Court also heard that when Ayad was interviewed by authorities, he acknowledged he had done the wrong thing but was surprised at how long it took to catch him out.
Judge Alan Tyor described his crime as "breathtaking in its greed".
He was jailed in 2019 for at least 18 months.
Rosemary Rogers was sentenced in January over a kickback scheme which saw her defraud National Australia Bank of millions of dollars.
The court was told Rogers received $5.5 million in kickbacks from events management company Human Group.
While chief of staff to NAB CEO Andrew Thornton, she used her position to approve inflated invoices submitted by Human Group.
Rogers would approve them and in return would receive gifts including cash, a car, boat and overseas holidays.
She was jailed for at least four years and nine months while Human Group has denied any
Paglianiti was desperate to save her crumbling events business when she stole more than $6.3 million from a homewares business run by a friend.
Across four years while employed as a part-time bookkeeper from Eastern Homewares, she made more than 100 dodgy transactions disguised them as ATO payments.
Instead she sent the payments, worth more than $6.32 million in total, to her personal and business accounts.
As her business losses mounted, Paglianiti developed a gambling addiction, which County County of Victoria Judge Liz Gaynor noted during her sentencing.
"The vast majority of what you stole went into poker machines and was simply lost," Judge Gaynor said.
She was jailed in 2019 for at least two-and-a-half years.
Michael Ray was among three people identified as members of a Victorian-based fraud syndicate conspiring to collect more than $5 million through the GST system.
According to the Australian Taxation Office, Ray illegally obtained personal identifying information, and used it to create false entities and register them for GST.
Business activity statements were lodged to claim false GST refunds. The refunds were then funnelled to bank accounts that had been created using the stolen identities.
The South Melbourne man was sentenced to five years' prison in Victoria's County Court last November after pleading guilty to conspiracy with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth.
His non-parole period was set down for three years.
Melbourne mother Jade Cheasley, 31, told Centrelink she was living in her car with her three children in order to claim welfare payments as a single parent
In reality, she was leading a flashy lifestyle with her kids and husband in their mansion in suburban Craigieburn.
Cheasley was jailed for two-and-a-half months last October after rorting Centrelink of more than $100,000 over five years to fund her family's luxury lifestyle.
She splurged the money on boats, cars, two properties in regional Victoria and a family holiday.
Geelong-based racing identity Bill Vlahos conned more than more than $17 million from victims of his punting club Ponzi scheme who believed they had "won" millions of dollars.
But the bets were never placed in the amount that Vlahos claimed.Vlahos would supply punters with bet sheets representing the horses upon which bets were being placed but then he would put the money into his own account.Vlahos is awaiting a court date for a plea sentencing hearing after claiming that his human rights were breached when during a court-ordered psychological assessment.
He has been on remand since February 2020 when he pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception over $17.5 million after 300 other charges were dropped in a plea deal.
A man who claimed to be a Tahitian prince led a flashy designer lifestyle while defrauding the Queensland government of more than $16 million.
Joel Barlow was sentenced to 14 years' jail in 2013 after admitting to a string of offences, including forgery and aggravated fraud as an employee.
He committed the offences while working as a middle manager for Queensland Health between October 2007 and December 2011.
When Barlow was arrested in 2011, police found hundreds of luxury items in his Brisbane waterfront apartment including a fake crown, a life-size horse lamp, an Hermes saddle, a Chanel watch and a Louis Vuitton surfboard.
The late Alan Bond was one of Australia's most colourful entrepreneurs during his high-flying days in the 1980s.
But it all came crashing down when Bond - who built and lost an international brewing, media and property empire, was declared bankrupt in 1992.
In the same year he was jailed after being found guilty of charges arising from the collapse of Rothwells Bank.
He won a retrial, was released from prison and acquitted in 1992.
He was later jailed in 1996 over the purchase of the Manet masterpiece La Promenade.
In 1997, he received a further jail term after pleading guilty to using his controlling interest in Bell Resources to siphon $1.2 billion into his Bond Corporation.
Originally published as Australia's biggest fraud cases revealed