A fraudster handyman who swindled customers out of more than $24,000 also once faked cancer to get more than $12,000 from his girlfriend for “treatments,” a court heard.
Benjamin James Packer, 39, scammed nine clients out of a total of $24,522.50 between February 10 last year to January 22.
Police prosecutor Mark Burrell on Tuesday told Caloundra Magistrates Court Packer advertised his services online using his real name, provided quotes for work to be completed and failed to follow through once he received payment.
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“In each instance, the victim paid the deposit and in return did not receive the work for which they had paid the deposit for,” he said.
“The defendant cited various excuses to each victim as to why he had not commenced the jobs.”
The court heard one of Packer’s victims was 73.
Senior Constable Burrell said a jail term was the only appropriate sentence considering Packer’s dishonest criminal history.
“The offending was deliberate, it was protracted and breached the trust of these victims who were clearly willing to provide the defendant with employment,” he said.
The court heard Packer was sentenced to 18-months on parole in October 2017 when he scammed his former partner out of $12,500.
“He made claims to his then girlfriend that he had cancer and he needed money for treatment,” Senior Constable Burrell said.
“He stated he would repay her but the defendant failed to repay her any funds and the offending was viewed as a significant breach of trust.”
Packer had previously pleaded guilty to eight charges of fraud dishonestly causing detriment and one charge of fraud dishonestly inducing the delivery of property.
Packer’s lawyer Donna Hanslow-Hastie said Packer’s business had run into financial hardship due to some clients not paying him.
“It all just had a financial tumbleweed effect on him when he got more and more into financial deficit,” she said.
“He instructs that he was foolishly taking on work he didn’t have the manpower to complete and it all got completely out of control for him.
“It all spiralled into something of a nightmare for him and he eventually went under.”
The court heard Packer was a father-of-three which he financially supported as well as his partner and her daughter.
Ms Hanslow-Hastie told the court Packer was homeless at the age of 13 before he was taken in by a baker and his wife and given a job in their bakery.
She asked for him to be given a suspended sentence so he could continue working as a labourer and provide for his family.
Magistrate Stephanie Tonkin said Packer’s history did him no favours.
“You were milking these vulnerable consumers,” she said.
“You may be a terrific and responsible partner but you’re not a terrific and responsible business person.
“You’re a fraudster.”
Ms Tonkin sentenced Packer to two-and-a-half years jail, with a parole eligibility date of July 14 next year.
She also ordered he pay restitution to his victims.
Convictions were recorded.
Outside court, one of Packer’s victims said the outcome was excellent.
“I just had to see it for myself, I’m really happy,” she said.
The victim, who did not wish to be named, said she was scammed out of $4200 after she sent a deposit to Packer to build a deck for her new home.
“He just had so many excuses as to why he couldn’t come – he was going to a funeral in Cairns, the rain and then he was recovering from his foot being sliced open,” she said.