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19.11.2018 at 01:35
Real Estate Broker Found Guilty In International Scam
The 67-year-old was found to have transferred $3.1 million from a Queensland bank account to a Victorian casino account.
Russell Magnus, who has 50 years of experience in real estate, was found guilty in Brisbane District Court last week.
He was found to have participated in an international scam involving a Hong Kong crime syndicate.
His involvement consisted of opening bank accounts that were necessary to make the fraud work.
Members of the crime syndicate used forged documents to impersonate people of Chinese descent who lived in Queensland.
They would then transfer properties or money belonging to the people they were impersonating to their own ownership or accounts, without the real owners knowing about it.
Judge Bernard Porter said they banked on the general lack of familiarity with Chinese names to pull the fraud off.
There was an attempted — but failed — attempt to transfer ownership of a property in Robertson, valued at $2.5 million.
In another case, the property of a Brisbane Chinese couple was sold without their knowledge, and the resulting $3.1 million was then transferred to a Crown Casino account.
Mr Magnus told the bank it was for a property settlement, but the bank became suspicious and froze the account so the money was not lost.
He was arrested when he returned to the bank 5 days later, and tried to transfer $20,000 from the account for what he claimed was his "fee" from the property transaction.
Judge Porter said Magnus was centrally involved in all the frauds and attempted frauds at issue, but he did not actually receive any money from them.
Defense counsel for Mr Magnus said at the time he became involved, medical issues and 3 divorces had left him destitute.
He claimed Mr Magnus had been made the "fall guy" for the frauds. The people who masterminded the frauds have not been caught.
Magnus pleaded guilty to 2 frauds in excess of $30,000, an attempted fraud of value more than $30,000, and one other attempted fraud.
Mr Magnus had a prior history of fraud and dishonesty offences.
He was sentenced to 5 years in jail, which was suspended because of the 575 days he had already been incarcerated.
He was also given 2 years probation.
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