More prison time for Trade Me con-artist Richard Wallace over $124,000 fraud

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 Jul 2020, 5:33PM
Serial fraudster Richard Mark Wallace leaving the Auckland District Court in February 2019. (Photo / Sam Hurley)
Serial fraudster Richard Mark Wallace leaving the Auckland District Court in February 2019. (Photo / Sam Hurley)

More prison time for Trade Me con-artist Richard Wallace over $124,000 fraud

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 Jul 2020, 5:33PM

A serial con-artist has had more than two years added to his prison sentence for his continuous and "relatively sophisticated" used-car scam targeting Trade Me users.

Richard Mark Wallace was last year sentenced to two years and eight months' behind bars for scamming Trade Me buyers out of $95,400, the Herald on Sunday revealed.

Today, he was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on more fraud charges relating to a further $124,212 in losses.

In all, Wallace has at least 27 victims across New Zealand, whom he hoodwinked by claiming to be a legitimate car dealer for about three years starting in April 2015.

One of his victims was in court today.

The total losses to Wallace's victims was some $219,612.

Judge Brooke Gibson said Wallace's modus operandi was "relatively sophisticated".

The fraudster would use falsified emails and the names of legitimate motor vehicle traders and companies to disguise his fake deals.

He would also come up with excuses for the delays in delivering the cars, which ultimately never arrived.

"You plainly are a dishonest person and have been for many, many years," Judge Gibson said.

For several more obtaining by deception charges and two charges of failing to comply with a police search when he refused to unlock his iPhone and iPad, the judge added 26 months' imprisonment to Wallace's existing sentence.

The court heard the additional charges had resulted from victims in other parts of New Zealand, such as Queenstown, where local police had initial dealt with the complaint before the file made its way to a detective in Auckland.

During Wallace's scams, several aliases were also, including George Auckland and Richard Worthington.

Other names which have been linked to Wallace include Ricardo Wallacia and Allan Marble.

He and his aliases have also been connected to further alleged scams during the past 15 years, many of which came while it is understood Wallace operated out of Florida and Mexico, the Herald found.

After being arrested in April 2017 following an appearance on the Police Ten 7 TV show, Wallace went on the run while on bail.

Police again required the public's help in finding the fraudster before he was arrested and back before the courts in November 2018.

Trade Me's head of trust and safety George Hiotakis earlier told the Herald scammers leave "deep electronic footprints on our site which can be tracked".

The online trading site has a team of 36 people who monitor it around the clock for scams or untoward behaviour.

Every years Kiwis lose millions of dollars to online scams, Netsafe estimates.

Earlier this year the organisation warned people to be vigilant to opportunistic scammers, fake news and possible online abuse as virtual connections become more common due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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