A man was sentenced to six years and nine months in jail for defrauding a fellow worshiper in a Perth religious community. From June 2017 to November 2019, Munir Muzafar Fakhrud Hassanali stole AU $2.7 million (1.9 million USD) from his 66-year-old victim.
Guilty as charged
The 42-year-old defendant was found guilty by a jury in District Court of 82 counts of fraud-related charges. Both males were active participants in a religious group in Perth that adhered to the Islamic faith.
There is a long-standing custom within the community of individuals lending money to other community members without demanding any interest. The victim got into trouble when he consented to guarantee a loan worth AU $30,000 (21,348 USD).
Hassanali then persisted in targeting the individual, eventually draining his life savings. The scammer asserted that he needed the money to support non-existent business initiatives. He developed detailed justifications to rationalise why he wanted the cash, even providing documentation to support his claims in one case.
The cheapest loan was for AU $1,000 (712 USD), while the highest was for AU $200,000. (142,323 USD). Throughout the whole time, Hassanali only returned AU $41,000 (29,000 USD). After a probe by the Financial Crimes Squad in Perth, police detained him in December 2019.
Hassanali admitted shortly after his arrest that he had lost the money playing games and had no means to compensate the victim. At the time, the officials conducted extensive inspections to determine whether Hassanali had also borrowed money from other individuals, but no proof was ever discovered.
State prosecutor Rebekah Sleeth responded to Hassanali’s conduct by describing the victim as “a hardworking, trustworthy, and kind man who lost his dignity and life savings due to the callous avarice of one very dishonest individual.”
During the court hearings, it was revealed that Hassanali had a chronic gambling addiction and that he used most of the borrowed cash to fund this habit at casinos.
Despite getting several character references on Hassanali, the court decided that the scammer showed no remorse for his actions. As per Judge Timothy Sharp, Hassanali “exhibited a planned pattern of deception, which only halted when the police interfered.”
Before the possibility of Hassanali’s release from jail ever exists, he will have to spend a minimum of four years and nine months behind bars. On the other hand, he was given a chance to apply for parole.
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