A man has been sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for defrauding another member of a religious community in Perth. From June 2017 to November 2019, Munir Muzafar Fakhrud Hassanali stole 2.7 million Australian dollars (1.9 million USD) from his 66-year-old victim.
Guilty as charged
The 42-year-old defendant was found guilty by a district court jury of 82 fraud-related counts. Both men were active members of a Perth religious group that adhered to the Islamic faith.
There is a long-standing custom within the community that individuals lend money to other members of the community without charging any interest. The victim got into trouble when he agreed to secure a loan worth 30,000 Australian dollars ($21,348).
Hassanali then persisted in targeting the individual, eventually depleting his savings. The scammer claimed that he needed the money to support non-existent business initiatives. He developed detailed justifications to justify why he wanted the money, even providing documents to support his claims in one case.
The cheapest loan was AU$1,000 (USD 712), while the highest was AU$200,000. ($142,323). During all this time, Hassanali only brought in 41,000 Australian dollars (29,000 USD). After an investigation by the Financial Crimes Squad in Perth, police arrested him in December 2019.
Hassanali admitted shortly after his arrest that he had lost the money playing games and had no way of compensating the victim. At the time, officials conducted extensive inspections to determine whether Hassanali had also borrowed money from others, but no evidence was ever uncovered.
State Attorney Rebekah Sleeth responded to Hassanali’s conduct by describing the victim as “a hardworking, trustworthy and kind man who lost his dignity and savings due to the callous greed of a very dishonest individual. “.
During court hearings, it was revealed that Hassanali suffered from a chronic gambling addiction and used most of the borrowed money to fund the habit in casinos.
Despite several character references to Hassanali, the court ruled that the con man showed no remorse for his actions. According to Judge Timothy Sharp, Hassanali “showed a planned pattern of deception, which only stopped when the police intervened”.
Before the possibility of Hassanali’s release exists, he will have to spend at least four years and nine months behind bars. On the other hand, he had the option of applying for parole.
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