Online ‘girlfriend’ burns 65-year-old retiree

AN online relationship gone wrong has ended with a 65-year-old retiree appearing in court for the first time after being duped by his so-called girlfriend.

Alan Robert Fletcher pleaded guilty in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court to possessing tainted property.

Fletcher struck up an internet relationship with a woman overseas after the breakdown of his marriage.

The woman asked to borrow money from Fletcher, with promises of moving to Australia to start an ongoing relationship.

He loaned her money as asked.

The relationship culminated when she asked him to help her transfer more than $35,000 loaned from a friend to help pay for her to move out.

He did so, keeping $547 as a repayment for the money he had loaned the woman.

But, the money which had been transferred into his account had been obtained illegally, meaning Fletcher had committed a crime by keeping it and not reporting the cash to police.

Defence lawyer Trinity McGarvie said Fletcher was incredibly embarrassed by the entire incident.

"He thought that he had found a friendship," she said.

She said the friendship had ended.

"He doesn't know who he was talking to," she said.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell said Fletcher's case was a warning to everyone.

"It's a lesson to everybody about these programs and technology," he said.

"One of the biggest increases in fraud offences is through programs like Gumtree.

"This is the same type of situation."

Mr Tatnell said he took into account Fletcher's good behaviour and did not expect to see him back in court.

He ordered Fletcher be placed on a $500 good behaviour bond.

No conviction was recorded.



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