A Whitsunday man swindled two ‘vulnerable’ friends out of money which he put into an obvious scam.
A Whitsunday man swindled two ‘vulnerable’ friends out of money which he put into an obvious scam.

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A REMORSELESS fraudster, who firmly believes he has a claim to $31 million, swindled two vulnerable friends out of $166,000.

But Mackay District Court heard Colin Murray Lewis was himself the victim of a scam - he had been chasing access to the multimillion-dollar overseas accounts for a decade.

Now his two Whitsunday victims, including a quadruple amputee, have lost everything - and even as Lewis was jailed for four years, he still believed he would get his hands on the "mythical" cash.

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The offending occurred in the Whitsunday area between September 2017 and January 2018.

He had been living with his first victim, who had lost both his hands and legs below the knee after contracting meningococcal.

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In September 2017 he received about $131,600 from a disability insurance payout and a fundraising campaign to help him "cope with the terrible result of that disease".

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"Instead you took advantage of his trusting nature and took money from him to, I accept, to try and get this mythical money out of these mythical bank accounts without telling him the story of how you came into this money," Judge Deborah Richards said.

"I've no doubt that if you'd told him that you'd been trying to get money that you didn't actually earn, that you'd obtained from an obvious scam and you'd been trying to do this for 10 years … there's no way in the world he would have given you that money."

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He took $35,000 from his second victim who was a carer for her husband - the money was for their retirement.

The court heard his victims had been under the impression they would be repaid.

"It's certainly not as sophisticated as many fraud schemes that we've seen and it certainly didn't go on as long as many fraud schemes that we've seen, but the two people that you picked on were very vulnerable … and have no way of recouping that money," Judge Richards said.

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The court heard bizarrely Lewis still believed the money existed and he was entitled to it tendering, through his defence barrister, documents purportedly to support its existence.

The documents included alleged bank accounts and one was titled 'Royal Secret Intelligence Service', the court heard.

"They don't look legitimate," Judge Richards said.

"You have put a lot of money into trying to get this money that clearly does not exist, but the fact remains you still believe it exists.

"And there is a danger in my view that you could reoffend."

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Barrister Paul Rutledge also handed up medical material that suggested Lewis may have Aspergers, which could be linked to why the offending occurred. But the court heard it was not a definite diagnosis.

Crown Prosecutor Claudia Georgouras said Lewis had previous entries for dishonesty on his criminal history including a conviction for embezzling as a clerk in New South Wales.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and will be eligible for parole on January 23, 2022. Convictions were recorded.

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