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One scam too many lands woman in hot water

A WOMAN who was involved in a fraudulent overseas internet scam targeting small businesses has narrowly escaped spending time behind bars.

Joann Lee Hallett, 43, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Ipswich District Court to receiving tainted property stemming from the scam.

Crown prosecutor Matt Le Grand told the court the offences occurred between February and September, 2014 and involved 36 individual transactions.

He said Hallett had met a person online called "Alex from Cambodia" who asked her to send him some products he had purchased from businesses in Australia.

Mr Le Grand said Alex told Hallett he could not receive the products because the Australian businesses would not ship them to Cambodia. He said Alex was using stolen credit cards to make the purchases which totalled more than $10,000.

He told the court Alex paid Hallett a commission to send the products to him, and she received $2114 for her troubles.

Defence barrister Stephen Kissick said Hallett had no criminal history and was unaware of what she was getting herself into. He said Hallett had been unemployed and thought she could run a business from this, similar to legal ones operating in the US for consumers here.

"It is obvious she was used in a bigger scheme but there is no doubt she turned a blind eye to the obvious," he said.

"These overseas gangs use a particular type of person who is vulnerable and generally target them.

"But obviously there came a point where she understood what she was doing was probably not right."

Judge Sarah Bradley said she did not believe Hallett was unaware of what was happening.

"You should have had a very strong suspicion fraud was occurring, especially after someone who was scammed confronted you about it and warned you something was amiss," she said.

"Ultimately small businesses in Australia were sending property to your address and you knew full well they were not going to be paid. Unfortunately it is all too easy with the internet and credit cards these days for this fraudulent behaviour to occur."

Judge Bradley sentenced Hallett to six months behind bars but ordered she be released on immediate parole.



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