Elderly people scammed savings for P and pokie money by serial scammer

A woman who defrauded an elderly victim out of all of her savings of $ 15,450 – her third elderly victim in three months – avoided jail, despite a previous jail term for skipping a cab ride.

Anthea Lynne Houkamau, 42, was sentenced to 11 months of intensive supervision in Rotorua District Court in April after pleading guilty to one charge, causing a deception loss of more than $ 1,000.

The sentence will run concurrently with his current intensive supervision sentence, also to target elderly and vulnerable victims.

Thing obtained three factual summaries from police detailing how, between October 16 and December 5 of last year, Houkamau targeted three victims, obtaining a total of $ 18,230.

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All the victims – who Thing chose not to name – were people aged 78, 80 and 87 respectively.

Two are also described as suffering from dementia and as “vulnerable to victimization”.

Summaries reveal that Houkamau’s first elderly victim was approached on a street in Rotorua and demanded $ 20.

“The victim agreed, because he thought she was a member of the family, and together they went to an ATM,” the summary reads.

“While at the ATM, the victim entered her four-digit PIN and started entering the withdrawal amount of $ 20. The defendant intervened, reaching out to the victim and entering the withdrawal amount of $ 780. “

Houkamau met his second victim after what the summary describes as an introduction by an associate.

Anthea Lynne Houkamau demanded $ 20 from a victim, but the ATM

DOMINICO ZAPATA / STUFF

Anthea Lynne Houkamau demanded $ 20 from a victim, but the ATM “stepped in” and took out $ 780 instead.

“Together, they told the victim that they needed money and a car to urgently see a relative in the Cantabrian nursing home.”

The victim agreed to withdraw money from an ATM, but was unable to operate the machine.

“The accused offered to help the victim and asked for his PIN code to access his account. The defendant withdrew $ 2,000 in cash, exceeding the amount agreed to by the victim. “

Houkamau’s latest victim was also approached on a street in Rotorua, where she told them “she had no money and children were returning from Australia”.

According to the summary, accompanied by an associate, Houkamau once picked up the victim and took her to her bank, where she withdrew $ 3,000.

It was a pattern that repeated itself, with other trips bringing in $ 2,300 and $ 4,000.

“Also during this period, the Respondent visited [an ATM] with the victim’s EFTPOS card and withdrew money.

Houkamau also left the victim with handwritten “I owe you” notes, signed with a false name, indicating that the money would be refunded on a certain date.

“The total amount the accused obtained from the victim is approximately $ 15,450,” the summary reads.

Money was the victim of “a lifetime of savings”.

Houkamau told police following the offense that she was not the only one who “scammed” the victim and that there were three more.

“The defendant added that she alone spent $ 5,500 on slot machines and gave at least $ 7,000 to others to buy methamphetamine.”

Houkamau pleaded guilty to every offense in court, receiving two sentences of one year of intensive supervision and, most recently, 11 months of intensive supervision and a restitution order of $ 2,000.

While Houkamau avoided prison for these offenses, she was not so lucky in May 2012.

It was then that she was sentenced to six weeks in prison after running away from the taxi that took her from Tauranga to Rotorua, and the fare of $ 155.

“This is called grooming”

This is called “grooming” when it comes to elderly victims, and the vast majority of offenders never set foot in court.

This is the perspective of Age Concern’s professional elder abuse and neglect educator, Hanny Naus.

While Naus declined to comment on a specific case, she was able to shed light on the neglected problem of elder abuse, especially financial abuse, and the appalling toll the crime has for its victims.

Asked about the reaction of some of the victims she spoke to, she replied that it covered “the whole gamut”.

Hanny Naus of Age Concern said the vast majority of elder abuse offenses go unreported.

Provided

Hanny Naus of Age Concern said the vast majority of elder abuse offenses go unreported.

“Total embarrassment, total shame, that’s why so many people don’t come forward. “How could I have trusted this person, I can’t tell my own family”, the other end is total outrage, losing all confidence, “how could this have happened”, at both ends, angry with the world. “

Haus said that for some victims their response is complete withdrawal from their community.

“It affects the whole person, their dignity, their self-respect, their role in the community. “

She also said that victims are often frightened by the reaction of family members, because “they feel like they are the ones who are stupid.”

Haus said more than half of the elder abuse cases reported to Age Concern involved financial abuse and the majority – four out of five cases – were abuse by family members.

While the Houkamau case seems unusual in that it was initially unknown to its victims, Naus said that if it was not the family, the abuse is often committed by someone known to the victim.

“The neighbor, the caregiver, went to the same church and then they established a relationship,” she said.

“It’s called grooming.”

Haus said international research suggested that only 14% of such offenses against elderly victims were reported to an authority.

Age Concern’s own research in their Elder Abuse and Neglect Services Report, which covered July 2016 to July 2017, indicated that 2,200 cases of elder abuse were reported each year, with estimates that three-quarters were not not reported.

Haus said fear of entering the criminal justice system also prevents many from reporting abuse.

She said it can sometimes be difficult to prove the extent of coercion when a victim may have handed over information such as PIN codes, and many fear “they will be torn apart by the accused’s lawyer” .

“Never sign anything”

Haus said there are a number of steps someone should take if they are concerned that they or someone they know may be experiencing elder abuse.

She said calling Age Concern on 0800 65 2105 should be a first step.

“You can talk about the issues, you don’t have to give your name. We prefer you to talk to us, she said.

Haus also said that Age Concern is under no obligation to notify the police, so conversations can be completely confidential.

She also advised seniors to discuss any financial matters with two trustworthy and unrelated people.

She said people should never sign anything, or give out passwords or bank details.

Most of all, she said never let yourself be rushed into a financial decision.

“Either way, it can wait 24 hours. Don’t do impulsive stuff, this is how it starts.

She said that in many of the cases she has seen the offense is “based on fear and anxiety, to make a quick decision.”

Haus also said there was another important message to reassure anyone who believed they had experienced elder abuse.

“You are not the only ones.


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About Kristina McManus

Kristina McManus

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