Pair accused of iPhone fraud syndicate face court
A MAN and woman charged over a string of alleged fraud offences from across the state were arrested in Lismore.
The Melbourne-based pair appeared via video link, assisted by a Vietnamese interpreter, before Lismore Local Court on Monday.
Ngoc Thanh Lam, 66, from Footscray, has pleaded guilty to five of the 12 charges against her, while the remainder were withdrawn.
Magistrate Roger Prowse ordered a sentencing assessment report, which will be prepared before Lam is sentenced for using a false document to attempt to obtain an Apple iPhone X at Harvey Norman Lismore and four counts of using a false document to obtain financial advantage or cause disadvantage, which related to incidents at Young, Moree and Inverell in May this year.
According to court documents, all offences related to Lam's fraudulent purchase of iPhones using fake identification documents in various names.
Her final thwarted attempt, in Lismore, was on the afternoon of July 16.
She entered the Harvey Norman store on Zadoc St shortly after her co-accused, 59-year-old David Chan, from St Albans, allegedly fraudulently bought an iPhone there.
Mr Chan, who also faced the court via video link, formally pleaded not guilty to all his charges on August 5, but told the court this week he planned to plead guilty.
According to court documents, it is alleged the store manager saw a fraud alert on the Optus system after selling Mr Chan an iPhone plan.
This led the manager to delay progress of a sale when Lam later entered the store.
Police attended and the pair were arrested.
Mr Chan is facing 16 fraud-related allegations over alleged iPhone purchases in Lismore, Moree, Inverell, Gunnedah and Temora.
In court, Mr Chan's solicitor, Natasha Wood, confirmed the prosecution had filed a brief of evidence and the court heard while there was some material outstanding, this wouldn't hamper efforts to list his matter for hearing.
But the defendant's interpreter interjected to ask about the state of his pleas.
He informed the court Mr Chan had intended to plead guilty and wanted the court to set a date for sentencing.
"I don't know whether your instructions are changing," Magistrate Prowse told Ms Wood.
"It appears so," Ms Wood said.
According to court documents, police allege the pair were working as part of a criminal syndicate which had been operating "throughout Australia consistently for some time".
Chan's matter was adjourned to October 14 while Lam, who remains in custody at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, is due back before court on November 4.