Fraudster and gambler who stole $230,000 left with 96 cents

A WENDOUREE fraudster who stole $230,000 from two Ballarat men on Thursday pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining financial gain by deception.

Hwee Boon Sim, 45, set up fake business deals to secure money to fund his gambling addiction, a County Court sitting in Ballarat heard.

Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke said Sim lured both victims into a motel partnership, getting both to deposit $100,000 into his bank account during a series of transactions in October and November 2013.

The court heard Sim provided fraudulent documents from Resort Brokers Australia to convince the victims as part of the elaborate heist.

One victim was also duped into transferring $30,000 to Sim for a share in an illegitimate wine company.

The court heard on the same day Sim received one instalment of $34,000 for the motel business he bought a Mercedes Benz Coupe, which was later on-sold.

Mr Bourke said on January 6 after all the victims’ transactions had been recorded, Sim had 96 cents in his bank account.  

Sim was arrested by Ballarat detectives in Glenelg, South Australia, in February 2014 before being extradited to Ballarat to face court 

Mr Bourke said Sim admitted to his offences during a police interview and explained he was in a financial crisis due to gambling on horses.

Mr Bourke read out a witness impact statement which said the family had lost the ability to settle in Australia because of the scam.

“We’ve suffered depression and a sense of failure and futility,” the statement read.

“We both fear Sim may come back to inflict physical harm on our family.”

Sim’s defence council said the accused, who was declared bankrupt in 2003 with debts of $8.6 million, had developed a debilitating gambling habit over the years.

Sim’s council said Sim served three years in a New South Wales prison for being involved in a criminal racket where he would buy lease cars from car dealers with fake identification and his “associates” would ship them onto Indonesia.

When Sim was released from jail, he was approached by drug traffickers but rejected their advances, his council said

Sim, who has family in Ballarat, set these partnerships up as “genuine ventures” according to his council, and intended to pay the money back.

“He didn’t set out to recruit people to steal money off, it was a set of circumstances that just got on top of him,” Sim’s lawyer said.

Judge Paul Grant said: I can’t help but notice when the victim transferred money to Sim on December 6 2013, that very day he went and bought a Mercedes Benz Coupe.”

“That doesn’t sound like a man who is very concerned about his victims. It sounds like a man who using the funds to enrich himself.”

Sim remains in custody and will be sentenced on July 25.