How scammers stole $300k and the home of a cancer survivor
A Sydney mum recovering from cancer who was evicted after losing $300,000 to an international fraudster has won a court battle against her lender and returned home.
But the lender, Mango Credit, continues to hold Mary Saad's furniture, leaving the family to sleep on blow-up beds and eat while sitting in camping chairs.
Ms Saad's problems started when she got an unsolicited call in 2019 from a person who identified themselves as 'Clint Young' who falsely claimed to be from APC Finance and an agent of Mango.
Ms Saad - who is a widow, unemployed and recently overcame cervical cancer - was at the time seriously behind on her first mortgage to Westpac.
But she had been offered $305,000 by Mango and co-lender Isla Pty Limited at an interest rate annualised at 25 per cent.
The Bella Vista mum of three told the NSW Supreme Court "Mr Young" raised the idea of her investing the loan in cryptocurrency, telling her that he and Mango Credit's owner Yanis Derums were "making so much money from it together".
Ms Saad told the court he then showed her transactions that purported to be proof of profits of $10 million-plus.
"I just want to help you get rid of all your debt and make sure you can look after your kids," Ms Saad claims he said, which persuaded her to let him invest the loan proceeds in bitcoin.
According to her evidence, Ms Saad repeatedly tried to get some of the money back to make repayments but Mr Young did not answer his phone.
She told the court she spoke to Mr Derums - a former V8 racer who owns a $7 million harbourside property at Birchgrove - for the first time in December 2019, saying to him that Mr Young had told her "you were good friends with him".
"Yes," Mr Derums allegedly said, according to Ms Saad. She replied: "Well he just screwed me over … he isn't answering my calls, won't tell me where the money is and I don't have the money to pay you back." She told the court Mr Derums responded by laughing.
In March this year, Mango began legal action to gain control of her property. The NSW Sheriff executed a writ of possession in July.
Represented by Fortis Law, Ms Saad last month successfully sought to set aside the default judgment. The Supreme Court found Ms Saad had an "arguable defence" under the Contracts Review Act if it could be proven that the man identifying himself as Mr Young used "unfair tactics" while being, or appearing to be, Mango's agent. If a subsequent hearing finds in Ms Saad's favour, the loan could be wiped.
Mango said it had "no connection" with the "fraudulent broker", who has falsely claimed to represent at least three finance companies, including one part-owned by two-time Australian Open golf champion Peter Senior.
There is no allegation of any wrongdoing by Mr Derums or Mango Credit.
When contacted for comment, Mr Derums referred questions to his lawyer, who said: "The final outcome of the Saad matter is yet to be determined … The proceedings remain listed before the NSW Supreme Court and therefore Mango is unable to provide any comment." The lawyer also represents Isla which was "in the same position", he said.
Another Mango client, Newport woman Claudine Bryce, told The Daily Telegraph she had lost $200,000 to a person claiming to be "Mark Solomon". "Then he disappeared," Ms Bryce said. Solomon and Young are believed to be one and the same. Mango and Isla's lawyer said there was "no connection" between his clients and Solomon. The phone numbers used by the scammer appear to be local but come via Luxembourg. Their true origin may be India or Africa. Police are now investigating.
Originally published as How scammers stole $300k and the home of a cancer survivor