Conman dupes banks out of funds to gamble

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Conman dupes banks out of funds to gamble

A Latvian conman who defrauded ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia out of $411,906 to repay loan sharks, gamble at Melbourne’s Crown Casino and go on a shopping spree to buy designer watches and DJ equipment has been sentenced to four years and one month in jail.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Artus Malisevs, 31, travelled to Australia on a tourist visa in 2017 with a plan to steal money from the banks in order to pay off $29,500 he borrowed from a loan shark he met when he was a professional boxer.

“Your offending was highly sophisticated and orchestrated,” County Court of Victoria Judge Carolene Gwynn said when she handed down the sentence.

“Your sole purpose for coming to Australia was a criminal one. General deterrence must loom large.”

Malisevs planned to use the loan to set up a business against a rival of his but instead wasted the money gambling and drinking.

After breaking up with his partner, and with no money and no job, the loan shark told Malisevs to travel overseas to obtain the money through fraud “or face the consequences”, Judge Gwynn said.

Using EFTPOS machines linked to bank accounts he set up under false identities, Malisevs racked up $100,000 which he sent to the criminal syndicate overseas using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

When he pleaded guilty at a hearing late last year, Judge Gwynn said Malisevs’ case was the most sophisticated offending she had seen in 25 years.

Once the debt was repaid, Malisevs went on a shopping spree, using credit cards to buy a gold Breitling watch worth $10,100, three Tag Heuer watches worth $15,950 in total, and $22,479 in DJ music equipment.

Malisevs spent a further $160,000 gambling at Crown casino.

He attempted to steal a further $332,000 from ANZ but the payments were declined.

Following a complaint by ANZ, Victorian Police launched an investigation code-named Fes Longhorn in April 2018.

Malisevs was arrested at a gym in East Bentleigh, Melbourne, in June 2018.

Prior to Monday’s sentence, he had already spent 607 days in custody, where he ran boxing classes for other inmates.

Malisevs’ barrister Sam Tovy argued his client’s sentence should be reduced because he was just the front man for the crime syndicate and he had a drinking and gambling problem.

Judge Gwynn agreed there was no evidence he was the “mastermind” of the enterprise but did not accept he was driven to crime by a gambling or drinking problem.

Malisevs spent a total of 19 hours at Crown Casino before his arrest, placing bets of $246 on average.

Mr Tovy also argued his client had not lived a “lavish” lifestyle, but Judge Gwynn did not agree.

“I see little basis for distinction. You were clearly able to do what you wanted when you wanted. I consider this to be lavish,” she said.

Malisevs pleaded guilty to 13 criminal charges including obtaining a financial advantage by deception and possessing a fake passport.

He will be deported back to Latvia when his jail stint is complete.

Darwin casino employee steals Keno ticket

An employee at Darwin’s Sky City casino has pleaded guilty to stealing a $53,000 winning keno ticket and telling the winner of the prize his was worthless.

Michael Tomas, 35, and his brother-in-law Jonathan De Guzman appeared in Darwin Local Court last Friday morning, where they both pleaded guilty to obtaining a benefit for deception.

Prosecutor Naomi Loudon said security vision showed the moment the patron approached Mr Tomas with the winning ticket.

“Mr Tomas handed back four of the five tickets … he then reached beneath the counter and swapped the winning ticket with another one,” she told the court.

The next day, with Mr Tomas waiting in the car park, the court heard Mr De Guzman attended the casino and cashed in the winning ticket.

The winning ticket was worth A$53,353.60.

Casino employees are banned from gambling at Sky City Darwin and playing Keno in the Northern Territory.

Mr Tomas gave the winning ticket to his brother-in-law for this reason.

Mr De Guzman cashed the ticket as his own and received a $40,000 cheque and the remainder of the fraudulent winnings in cash.

A casino employee found the ticket with 36-year-old De Guzman’s license attached.

The staffer remembered selling the ticket to the real winner and recognised De Guzman as his colleague’s brother-in-law.

The court head that Mr Tomas had worked at the casino for 15 years and his actions were a “gross breach of trust”.

Prosecutor Loudon told the court the true winner was repaid his prize when police recovered the funs and never knew he had been conned until Mr Tomas’ colleague informed police.

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