Bunbury grandmother jailed over ‘lover’ scam

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
The woman was sentenced in Perth District Court last week after previously pleading guilty to dealing in the proceeds of crime.
Camera IconThe woman was sentenced in Perth District Court last week after previously pleading guilty to dealing in the proceeds of crime. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Deborah Maree Taylor tricked a German man into thinking she was a US Army sergeant who needed more than $12,000 before she could take her “forever leave” to be with him.

What that man did not know, was that Taylor was a grandmother, living and working as a traffic controller in Bunbury who “succumbed to temptation” when she scammed her “vulnerable” victim.

Taylor, 54, was sentenced in Perth District Court on Friday after previously pleading guilty to dealing in the proceeds of crime.

The grandmother will now spend at least six months behind bars after a judge described her romance scam as serious and said that Taylor had “clear knowledge” of what she was doing.

The court was told, between June 19 and 22, 2017, Taylor used social media messaging program, WhatsApp, to engage in a conversation with her victim.

The man believed Taylor was in the US Army and that the pair were in a romantic relationship.

Taylor convinced the man to pay for her “forever leave” which would allow her to leave the army and join him in Germany.

Taylor then provided the man with her mobile phone number and pretended to be a leave processing officer for the army.

The man paid an initial payment of about $6500.

The court was told, when the man contacted Taylor to ensure the transfer had gone through, she responded with “as soon as it arrives in the bank, I’ll rush it through and she’ll be on the plane the next day”.

Taylor then requested a second payment to “speed up the process” and the man obliged, transferring another amount of about $6300.

Taylor told her would-be-lover that he had been scammed by two Nigerians and even forwarded him images of the “scammers” and their full names and addresses.

Taylor spent the money on gambling and bills, the court was told.

Judge Andrew Stavrianou said while Taylor initially denied any wrongdoing, she had since accepted culpability and indicated her intention to pay the money back.

Pre-sentence and psychiatric reports noted Taylor could have had unaddressed depression and low self-esteem.

Judge Stavrianou said it was clear Taylor was remorseful, but the incident was too serious not to warrant imprisonment.

Taylor was sentenced to 12 months jail, but will be released after six months on a $5000 good behaviour bond.

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