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Five year sentence for mortgage scam

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/08/2016

The linchpin of a mortgage fraud scheme that scammed seven banks out of $9.2 million has been jailed for five years.

Eli Devoy, also known as Ellie Stone, Eli Ghorbani, and Elaheh Ghorbani Sar Sangi, was sentenced in Auckland District Court on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old was the principal defendant and was found guilty of 20 charges following a 10-week trial earlier this year, as well as admitting four more charges.

Devoy, her two brothers and two other relatives faced a total 41 charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office over offending from 2007 to 2010.

The group bought 11 houses in Auckland, selling them on at increased prices, and deceived the banks into mortgages using false information on applications.

Devoy's brothers Mehrdad Ghorbani and Mehrzad Ghorbani were sentenced to two years' and seven' jail months and 10 months' home detention respectively for their part in the scheme.

A fourth defendant, Mehran Ghorbani, was given seven months home detention while Devoy's sister-in-law, Nasrin Kardan, faces sentencing in September.

The court heard Serious Fraud Office and police officers who executed a search warrant on the Devoy residence in Eastern Beach in 2012 found a veritable Aladdin's Cave of compromising material in the form of bank statements, loan applications, notes confirming payments of various deposits, a passport and a driver's licence. Many of the documents were forgeries.

The scheme, or "series of scams", began to unravel in February 2010 when a Bank of New Zealand investigator advised police about some transactions using false documents, while Westpac had begun to investigate another property deal at about the same time. Kiwibank made a complaint to the SFO in November 2011.

Devoy was given a minimum period of imprisonment of two-and-a-half years.

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