Husband's mobile phone scam paid for IVF
A Sri Lankan refugee and restaurant owner, who conned vulnerable students into giving him their mobile phones, has been jailed for more than $40,000 worth of fraud.
Senthuram Selvaraja, 30, spent his share of the proceeds from sale of the phones on IVF treatments for his wife, and only repaid $300, Brisbane Magistrates Court heard.
Magistrate Judith Daley said 30 vulnerable students who had lost their new phones were then stuck with paying off mobile phone plans.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Tara Williams said Selvaraja defrauded people who were desperately seeking work under the guise of providing them with job opportunities.
After overseas-born students who barely spoke English answered advertisements, Selvaraja went with them when they bought new mobile phones.
He then took the phones off them, saying he would download an app, but never returned them, the court heard.
Selvaraja pleaded guilty on Friday to 30 fraud offences committed over six months.
The court was told $39,869 was still outstanding as a result of the frauds.
Defence lawyer Mitchell Cunningham said Selvaraja, had come to Australia by boat in 2012, spending six months on Christmas Island, before getting a bridging visa as a political refugee.
He had worked in various jobs before opening his own restaurant, New Lanka Indian restaurant at Jindalee and in recent weeks New Lanka Spices business.
Mr Cunningham said Selvaraja and his wife had been trying to have a baby for 11 years and he had committed the offences at a time when he was unemployed and his wife was having expensive IVF treatments.
He said Selvaraja's wife had become pregnant through IVF last year, but the baby was stillborn at 28 weeks.
Selvaraja had met someone who proposed the mobile phone scam and he had received part of the proceeds of the sale of the fraudulently-obtained phones, Mr Cunningham said.
He said Selvaraja was not living an extravagant lifestyle and he was always bound to be caught, as he had used his own name and mobile phone number.
Magistrate Daley said there was no excuse for the fraud.
"You don't commit fraud because you want medical treatment for your wife,'' she said.
People should be able to trust others when they were trying to get a job, but he had deceived vulnerable people who were desperate to find work, Ms Daley said.
She sentenced to Selvaraja to two years' jail, suspended after three months, with an operational period of two years.
Originally published as Refugee scammed students to fund wife's IVF