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Fraudster deported from Aust to NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/05/2016

A New Zealand fraudster who claimed to be employed fulltime by Russell Crowe as a helicopter pilot in Australia in credit card applications is now in a New Zealand jail.

Paul James Bennett arrived in New Zealand on a flight from Australia on Friday and will appear in Christchurch District Court on Saturday, New Zealand police say.

He was met by police on arrival and was taken into custody as a result of existing arrest warrants.

Sydney's District Court heard last month that Bennett had fraudulently claimed on three credit card applications that he was a full-time helicopter pilot on a salary of $120,000 and created fake pay slips from the "Crowe Family Trust" to assist in a swindle.

He was in jail when he was supposedly flying the actor and his entourage around northern NSW.

Bennett had in early 2001 flown Crowe and his associates a couple of times but greatly exaggerated their connection.

He was meant to go to trial in November 2003 on several charges of dishonestly obtaining money by deception, brought for his greatly-exaggerated claims in credit card applications but he never showed at court and fled NSW.

Bennett was on the run until being arrested aboard a $140,000, 14-metre yacht last February while it was moored near Cowan Creek on the Hawkesbury River, 50km north of Sydney.

He has been in custody since and last month pleaded guilty to four charges over his 15-year-old scams.

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