RIPPED OFF: Teen internet scammer fronts court
A SOUTHERN Downs teen involved in a lucrative internet scam told a court he was tricked into the scheme.
Police busted Malcolm O’Neill at a Rochedale South home on January 4 last year, after he allegedly teamed up with his co-accused on nine separate scams in 2019.
The Warwick Magistrates Court heard the 19-year-old helped with minor details of the fake ads and received a small amount of the victims’ money in return.
Police prosecutor Steve de Lissa said the frauds were not O’Neill’s first dishonest crime, with a previous stealing offence on his criminal record.
The teen was also caught driving without a licence within the same period.
According to defence lawyer Clare Hine, her client was allegedly roped into the scheme by another man.
Ms Hine said O’Neill was “extremely vulnerable and naive”, educated to Year 9 at a special school and struggled with learning difficulties and ADHD.
The teen’s bank account, which was linked to the fraud, has since been closed.
Acting magistrate Rob Turra acknowledged O’Neill was “clearly not the main offender or instigator”, and warned against any further “silly” mistakes.
O’Neill pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud and one count of unlicensed driving.
He was sentenced to 60 hours’ community service and ordered to pay $970 restitution to the victims.
O’Neill was also fined $300 and disqualified from driving for three months.
No conviction was recorded.
His co-accused’s matters remain before the courts.