Australia - 69 years old woman jailed for a role in online scam


Community volunteer Edwena Doore jailed for role in online scam

By Joanna Menagh
Updated Fri at 2:00pm
e tA 69-year-old community volunteer who allowed herself to be used by online romance scammers has been jailed for her role in defrauding a couple of almost $450,000.

Edwena Ann Doore pleaded guilty to a charge of dealing in the proceeds of crime in relation to seven money transfers she made to overseas bank accounts in June and July 2014.

The money she transferred had been put into her account by the financial advisor of a New South Wales couple, who had been duped by the scammers into believing his clients, who were overseas on holiday, wanted funds from their superannuation account to go into Doore's bank account.

She then transferred the money to accounts in Malaysia, France, and the Philippines.

The Perth District Court was told Doore's problems began when she started what she believed was an "online relationship" with a person she knew as Kenneth Bruce.

She gave him her bank details along with permission for him to deposit funds into her account.

However in 2013 when she was living in New South Wales, she complained to police that she had been scammed out of $650,000 by Bruce, whom she believed she was going to marry.

She was told by police not to have any further contact with Bruce, but she ignored their warnings and continued to have an online "relationship" with him.

The court heard after Doore received the money in 2014, she assumed her accounts had been hacked and she later told police she complied with requests to transfer the funds overseas, because even though she suspected it was stolen, she was being threatened by the hackers.

Depression left Doore 'vulnerable' to scammers
Reports presented to the court suggested Doore was an "innocent victim of a romantic scammer who preyed on her vulnerability as an older woman left widowed by the death of her husband".

However that was not accepted by Judge Phillip Eaton who told Doore: "You knew that the funds were not yours".

"I don't discern that your conduct, quite frankly was either unwitting or innocent," he said.

Judge Eaton said rather than go to police and report what was happening, Doore acted on the scammers instructions and transferred large sums of money to "dubious entities" not known to her.

The court heard Doore, who had worked as a volunteer in hospitals and for the Saint Vincent De Paul Society, had become "significantly depressed" after the sudden death of her husband in 2004.

A psychologist report said Doore became "vulnerable to the influence of online scammers", but Judge Eaton said he had concerns about that finding because Doore was "quite clearly an intelligent person" who must have been aware of what was going on.

Doore was sentenced to 15 months in jail, but Judge Eaton ruled that after serving five months she be released on a $1,000 recognisance order to serve the remainder of the term in the community.

He also said she should undergo counselling particularly related to the "responsible use" of the internet and "resistance" to scams.

Only $270,000 of the $443,602 taken by the scammers had been recovered, and of that amount $162,000 had been returned to the couple who were defrauded.