A financial advisor in Australia who was supposed to be helping a client turn her income into life-saving earnings used it to feed his alcoholic and gambling lifestyle, instead. He’ll go to jail for his crimes, according to The Guardian, but that won’t help the client recuperate the AU$363,000 (US$230,000) she lost.
In 2010, Scott Hines was working at the Mildura branch of advisory firm ANZ as a financial advisor when he met the soon-to-be victim. After learning that the unidentified woman had property and an inheritance of AU$1 million (US$687,600), Hines agreed to help.
He laid out a financial plan to help the single mother, who was struggling to care for her disabled daughter. However, Hines had different plans that would ultimately impact the young girl, suffering from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Menace to Others
Hines took $100,000 (US$68,730) from the victim’s account and converted it into cash that he could spend at will. Next, he “borrowed” AU$230,000 (US$158,217) more from her account later that same year. He used this money as a loan to another customer, even charging the individual AU$37,000 (US$25,452) in interest.
ANZ fired Hines in 2012 for serious misconduct following a separate customer incident. However, he continued to run his scam on his client, using her money to pay for his lifestyle and to settle the other case.
He had complete control of her bank accounts by April of that year. Hines convinced the woman to begin using his new financial planning firm, although he told her to keep it secret from ANZ.
He used his debit card at an Australian hardware store chain to open a trade account called Department of Defence. There, he spent more than $10,000. In addition, Hines also stole Centrelink pension money from his victim to go on shopping sprees and cover his debts.
Eventually, the 41-year-old con man took control of all of his victim’s bank accounts. When the final tally of the theft was revealed, the victim was stunned by the amount she lost.
An End to the Run
When the victim realized what was going on, she contacted authorities. Police arrested Hines, who pleaded guilty last year to three counts of financial advantage by deception from 2011 to 2018.
The victim claimed she was “emotionally fragile” because of the fraud. In addition, she is still out the money, which she will probably never see. Since 2018, Hines, who admitted to having gambling and alcohol problems in court, has been a landscape gardener. This is not the type of job that would allow him to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars quickly.
As he was running his ruse, Hines tried to give off an appearance of being a Boy Scout. In 2011, he worked with the Australian Air Force Cadets as a volunteer. He was promoted to Commanding Officer at one point, but the scandal brought that to an end. The group demoted him and then discharged him last year.
Judge Trevor Wraight, who presided over Hines’ sentencing, ruled that the scammer’s actions were disgusting. He took advantage of two people, one disabled and one vulnerable. As a result, Wraight sentenced him to three years and five month in prison. However, after two years, he can request parole.
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