In less than a month, a Dunedin man racked up a bill of more than $4000 by bouncing cheques.
Uncovering his identity was no great challenge for the police — the cheques he used had the defendant’s own name on them.
Amio Filifili, 41, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday having admitted 12 counts of using a document for a pecuniary advantage, four charges of attempting to do so and one of obtaining by deception.
Usually, Judge Peter Rollo said, cheque or credit-card fraud was committed using other people’s banking items.
But this was a little more basic.
The unsophisticated fraud spree began on April 30 at noon when Filifili called Fish Hook resaturant and takeway and ordered $305 of fish and chips.
The feast was delivered to a Hope St home and the defendant paid with a cheque.
He knew he did not have the funds in his account to cover the bill, but the restaurant did not.
Only eight hours later, Filifili placed another mammoth order, this time for $295 of food.
And he paid by the same method.
Within a month, the defendant had defrauded businesses out of $4324.
He would go to motels with friends and give owners a cheque in lieu of a cash payment.
But he was long gone by the time moteliers caught on to what was happening.
Filifili brazenly hit one liquor store on consecutive days despite knowing the first cheque he had used was destined to bounce.
His offending scored him free motel stays, beer, tobacco, chicken and chips.
Filifili appeared to have a special predilection for pizza, too.
With seven dishonoured cheques, he managed to amass a bill of $1291 with Dominos Pizza.
Filifili told several victims he was a fisherman and was stocking up before going away to sea.
The lie worked more often than it did not.
Defence counsel Chris Lynch said it was clear by the amount of goods that were obtained that others were involved.
She said her client was involved with “the wrong company” and may have been under duress while the offences were committed.
No one else had been charged, Lynch said.
Judge Rollo said the fact Filifili used cheques with his own name on them “points to his naivety”.
The defendant had been the subject of mental health reports which found he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
However, medical professionals deemed him fit to plead.
Judge Rollo sentenced Filifili to 12 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to repay the victims at $20 a week.
The defendant could be heard yelling as he was led into the cells.
When time served on remand is calculated he will have only weeks to serve before he is released.
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