Unsuspecting mule found with $20k of goods
POLICE found a virtual Aladdin's trove of goods worth more than $20,000 in a raid on a rural Queensland property.
The pile of goods was part of an online fraud scam with its origins in the African country of Ghana.
But 69-year retiree Peter Abdoo was snared in the raid, discovering he'd inadvertently been made a "mule” by acting as a postal agent and shipping on the goods for the scammers.
Abdoo pleaded guilty in Bundaberg Magistrates Court to possession of tainted property on July 18, 2016 in the Gympie area.
Police prosecutor Steve Bardini said the goods included electrical items, luggage, personal accessories and jewellery.
Sergeant Bardini said between October 2013 and May 2016 police targeted online cyber fraud where persons using stolen credit card numbers would order online and there would be a subsequent dispatch of goods resulting in stock loss.
Investigations traced such online orders at the time of fraudulent activities, with Abdoo's address identified as a delivery point for some items.
Abdoo was not viewed as an online offender.
Sgt Bardini said 10 boxes of goods were found in the main bedroom at Abdoo's residence.
Abdoo acknowledged he knew why police were there, saying: "I didn't do it. Someone else did and sent the gear here.”
Abdoo said he would repackage the products when they arrived then re-post them overseas.
"He became involved after a trip to Ghana,” Sgt Bardini said.
"In return, a debit on a credit card, $8000, would be paid off.”
He said police recovered property valued in excess of $20,000, with Abdoo's role that of a mule used by the scammers.
Defence lawyer Rian Dwyer said a fine would be appropriate as Abdoo had no criminal history until these matters.
Mr Dwyer said Abdoo had already been dealt with at Gympie on other matters that arose from a search the same day.
Mr Dwyer said Abdoo had been employed all his adult life until 2004 when he was injured at a Mount Isa mine and crushed between two machines.
He received no payout for his injuries.
Abdoo later went to Ghana to help the poor.
"He was approached by what he thought was a charity to receive this property and forward it on,” Mr Dwyer said.
"It did eventually click that it was not above board.
"And he had the property ready to go to the police.
"He's been scammed by the scammers himself. He made no money out of it.”
Magistrate Neil Lavaring said Abdoo had been fined $1600 on the Gympie court matters.
He fined Abdoo $800 with no conviction recorded.