Australian meals blogger and boyfriend jailed over Ponzi scheme

Australian food blogger and boyfriend jailed over Ponzi scheme

Only one 12 months in the past, in style Darwin meals blogger Aimee Pitman was cashed up and residing her greatest life.

Right now, Pitman is working for peanuts as a jailhouse hairdresser and estranged from household and pals.

The favored 27-year-old socialite’s world got here crashing down in Could when she and her banker boyfriend Colin Voeuk, 32, had been arrested for masterminding a Ponzi scheme promoting faux investments in pub ATMs.

The pair was jailed on Tuesday for no less than 4 years after admitting to defrauding 17 individuals — lots of them shut household and pals — of a collective $1.7 million.

Buddies of Pitman, who was broadly admired in Darwin as a businesswoman, expressed shock at her fall from grace, with one former acquaintance describing her to as “only a beautiful woman”.

Northern Territory photographer Jessica Christie, who captured Pitman in a sequence of beautiful portraits simply earlier than her arrest in Could final 12 months, known as her a “stunning, kind-hearted girl” in a Fb publish.

“We spent the day laughing and speaking like previous pals and consuming critically good meals!” Christie wrote of her topic.

The court docket heard how Pitman and Voeuk charmed their trusting victims into pouring a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} into an funding scheme which had no investments.

The rip-off relied on later buyers shopping for into the scheme to pay “dividends” to earlier buyers, in keeping with the NT Information.

However the grasping pair put solely a fraction of the cash into the faux enterprise and blew the remainder — greater than $1 million — on their luxurious life-style over a four-year interval.

“That is, within the historical past of the NT, one of the vital vital frauds that the courts have seen,” Crown Prosecutor David Morters informed the court docket.

“Many individuals’s lives have been, if not ruined, dropped at the brink of spoil by the lies informed by these offenders.”

Amongst these betrayed by the grasping pair was Pitman’s personal father, who police allege misplaced an estimated $300,000.

Regardless of having been conned by his personal flesh and blood, Pitman’s father remained loyal by disputing the declare and insisting he gave her the cash to spice up her pre-packaged well being meals enterprise Meals is Life.

In response to the Day by day Mail, Mr Morters stated that whereas he believed Pitman’s father wasn’t being untruthful, he had modified his story since he first spoke to police and speculated his account had been influenced by his concern of seeing his daughter jailed.

Mr Morters stated months spent languishing in jail awaiting their listening to had ensured Pitman and Voeuk “now admire … the large spoil that they’ve accomplished to others”.

Nonetheless, their regret was “slightly bit arduous to place into perspective” given they continued with their dodgy scheme for 4 years — from 2014 proper up till police swooped in might this 12 months.

“Over the course of the final seven months, sitting in a jail within the suburbs of Darwin, anybody can be remorseful,” Mr Morters stated.

Voeuk’s barrister Jon Tippet, QC stated his consumer had grown up poor and was motivated to make cash as a “signal of success”, the NT Information reported.

“He’s damage lots of people and he accepts that,” Mr Tippett stated.

Pitman’s barrister, John Adams, stated his consumer, who now works as a hairdresser in jail, had “not been capable of present a purpose for her offending”.

“It’s combined up, in my submission, along with her want to get forward in life,” he stated.

Chief Justice Michael Grant stated the duo had “frittered away” the greater than $1 million they pocketed from the scheme.

Sufferer impression statements spoke of the betrayal and monetary spoil felt by victims, he stated.

He stated Voeuk was “main a double life” as a banker and a fraudster, whereas Pitman was “to a point the face of the enterprise”, advertising and marketing the scheme to buyers.

The couple was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail with a non-parole intervals of 4 years.

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