Parkes man Stephen Swindle has been found guilty of selling drought-stricken farmers hay that never existed, before spending the money on lingerie and theme park tickets.
In the midst of the crippling drought affecting many parts of the nation, scammers have been preying on the vulnerability of who are desperate to feed their livestock.
And recently, a man from Parkes was sent to prison for his unscrupulous act of dishonestly obtaining a financial gain by deception.
The story so far
Stephen John Swindle (his real name) from Parkes had a business masquerading the sale of hay and grain to farmers, but simply did not deliver it after receiving payment.
Mr Swindle was imprisoned last week for defrauding New South Wales farmers of more than $80,000 in a scam that lasted more than two years, after being found guilty of 10 counts of fraud under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900.
According to police papers, several vulnerable farmers purchased food for their livestock through Mr Swindle’s business. Some of the orders were partially delivered, while others were not delivered at all.
Mr Swindle has been sentenced to a total of three years and six months behind bars and will be eligible for parole in November 2020.
Court documents show Swindle spent the money he obtained from farmers on items including trips to theme parks and women’s lingerie.
He also spent it on accommodation on the NSW South Coast, sports betting, groceries and liquor.
In sentencing, Magistrate Philip Stewart said Swindle’s actions were “reprehensible” in light of the serious drought in the state.
He labelled Swindle as “lying, dishonest and violent”.
Per the ABC, “Mr Stewart found Swindle had lied about refunds to customers and about the whereabouts of trucks delivering feed…Swindle was found guilty of 10 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. One count was dismissed.”
Not the first case
Earlier this year, a Villawood man was also charged 13 fraud charges arising from a social media scam that allegedly advertised feed for livestock, which according to police was never delivered. The man allegedly targeted farmers in the Hunter Valley region, fleecing them to the tune of $40,000.
Police say that, unfortunately, fraudulent schemes of this type are on the rise, and everyone needs to be vigilant.