Durban – A real estate agent, who preyed on the vulnerability of an elderly woman and needed to find suitable accommodation, pleaded guilty to 58 counts of fraud related to scamming the unsuspecting client to quit ‘he parted with over 1 million rand, but did not deliver any homes. in return.
Martha O’reilly, who worked for Tyson Properties, convinced Pathmavathi Moodley, 74, that she would find an affordable home for herself, but got rich instead. O’reilly was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday.
Magistrate Fariedha Mohamed, who presided over the case at Durban Regional Court, suspended three-year sentence for a period of five years, on condition that Areilly did not commit the same crime during the period of suspension .
Moodley called Tyson Properties when she saw an ad in a house magazine, and was forwarded to O’reilly. While the initial house O’reilly pointed to Moodley to in a gated estate in Mount Edgecombe appealed to him, R3m’s asking price was out of his range.
O’reilly then promised to find something affordable at Moodley of Reservoir Hills.
In doing so, she instructed Moodley to deposit money into a lawyer’s trust account so that funds would be available to secure the right purchase.
Deposits were made 58 times to the lawyer’s so-called account, but police investigations revealed it belonged to O’reilly.
The first deposit was in July 2016 and by the time the last deposit was made almost nine months later,
O’reilly had siphoned R2 129,214 from Moodley’s bank account.
O’reilly is already serving a 5-year sentence in Johannesburg after being convicted of four counts of fraud, dating back to 2013, where she used the same modus operandi to defraud more than R300,000 from customers. She was sentenced in September on these charges.
Magistrate Mohamed did not comply with lawyer SW van der Merwe (who represented O’reilly) to have the two sentences carried out simultaneously during Friday’s proceedings.
In his plea statement, which was read by Van der Merwe, O’reilly offered to secure another affordable property for Moodley after the first attempt failed.
She informed Moodley that the money needed to be deposited into a lawyer’s trust account so that there was enough money to make a purchase.
“But I gave the details of my personal account. Initially it was to make sure there was enough to secure a property, but I used the money as my own personal funds.
O’reilly agreed that 58 deposits were made to his account.
“I admit that my actions led her to believe that she was depositing to secure a house and I admit that my actions caused her prejudice. By the time I made the false statement, I knew what I was doing was illegal.
“I did it to gain access to her funds and defraud her when I knew I was not going to help her secure the house.
Van der Merwe asked the court to take into account O’reilly’s personal situation when sentencing and said his client was 70 in December.
He suggested that a correctional supervision sentence would be more appropriate and that direct jail would have a further devastating effect on his family.
“She deserves punishment, but that doesn’t mean she has to go to jail. What will be achieved? Van der Merwe asked.
“Ms Moodley suffered prejudice, but sending the accused to jail will not alleviate the prejudice,” Van der Merwe said.
State Attorney Kuveshni Pillay asked Moodley to read a victim impact statement in court.
“I am very sad and dejected to be the victim of a scam. Sometimes I look back and feel so stupid that I can easily be fooled.
Moodley said her late husband was a principal and had provided for her well, but sadly everything was stolen from him.
“My husband’s hard earned money just disappeared.”
Moodley said she was homeless and forced to rent, live off her board and her health had deteriorated.
Moodley recounted how O’reilly bragged about only shopping at places like Woolworths, splashing money on expensive gifts, booze and clothes for her family, but she was doing it with his money.
“I seem to have lost all dignity. “Martha O’Reilly not only stole my money, but also my life.
Pillay said that Areilly “attacked” Moodley and that no clear reason was given as to what happened to the money.
She said that Areilly showed no remorse and only pleaded guilty because the evidence was overwhelming. Imprisonment was therefore the only appropriate punishment.
■ Our previous report referred to Kindlewood Estate. O’reilly had no connection with the estate. The error is regretted.