Magistrate mauls kitten conman
A magistrate has blasted a "conman" who defrauded his victims with a "pathetic sob story" during the sale of kittens.
Appearing at the Cleveland Magistrates Court today Anthony John Cecchin, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
The court heard Raby Bay man Cecchin would use marijuana and construct made-up backstories to purchase kittens without paying his unsuspecting victims.
In what Magistrate Deborah Vasta called a "fairly sophisticated fraud" Cecchin would "doctor up screen shots" as proof of funds transfers and collect the kittens with the understanding that the payments would appear in his victims' accounts after a certain period.
Cecchin would then on-sell the animals.
The court was told on May 26 the defendant agreed to pay $350 for a six-week-old kitten in Stapleton and on May 29 he claimed to have paid $100 for an eight-week-old kitten in Cleveland.
The court further heard Cecchin had also pleaded guilty to and was fined for two more kitten frauds at the Southport Magistrates Court.
According to court documents he defrauded a victim on May 20 in Miami and another victim on June 4 in Ipswich.
An exasperated Magistrate Vasta read out Cecchin's online message to his victims:
"I am desperately looking everywhere for the past three days for my girlfriend's 30th birthday surprise," Magistrate Vasta read.
"She lost her brother six months ago and a little kitten would make all the difference to both our lives at the moment."
The magistrate made her condemnation of Cecchin's manipulation clear.
"You are a conman," Magistrate Vasta said.
"You passed off this pathetic sob story to tug at the heartstrings of these people who were selling you kittens.
"And then you turn around and repay them by defrauding them and sending them doctored messages to prove that you had paid them.
"And they, out of frustration, have had to go to the police."
Cecchin's defence solicitor Sarah Pascoe said her client was a qualified carpenter currently working in hospitality and had made full admissions to police at the earliest opportunity.
Ms Pascoe said the transactions amounted to low level frauds of small amounts and told the court Cecchin had no like criminal history.
Upon sentencing Magistrate Vasta warned the defendant that had his offending not been "split between courts" he could have faced a more onerous decision.
"Personally, I think there needs to be more deterrence for fraud committed online than just fines," the magistrate said.
"If all four charges had been before me today I don't think you would have been looking at fines.
"If you ever come before the courts for any kind fraud again you can pack your toothbrush.
"It is a disgusting crime."
Cecchin was fined $800 and ordered to pay $400 in restitution.
No convictions were recorded.
Originally published as Magistrate mauls kitten conman