TONI Ing stole $21,481 from her boss and paid it to a con man who claimed he could get her some fake identification papers.
Ing, above right, was the subject of a domestic court order that stopped her from leaving Mackay, so she put her trust in “John Smith” after he befriended her in an internet chatroom.
She had a seriously ill father overseas and wanted to leave Mackay to help him and John Smith promised he could get some fake ID if she sent him money.
The 40-year-old single mother from Eimeo pleaded guilty in the Mackay Magistrates Court to stealing as a servant and making false entries in financial record books.
Ing worked for Just Magic Skin Care Clinic from November 2009 to April 1 this year as a book-keeper and was responsible for the banking, paying wages to herself and staff and paying creditors, prosecutor Constable Janelle Young said.
When discrepancies were noticed in the books by her employer, a comprehensive audit was done. Auditors found 27 instances of electronic transfers of funds to Ing’s private bank account, totalling $21,481.20.
She was sacked and police were notified. She made full admissions.
It was then that the story about John Smith was revealed and Ing had to admit to police that she had been scammed by him.
Solicitor Antoinette Morton, of Morton Lawyers, said: “She was a vulnerable person who was very open to the attentions of John Smith.
“There were Family Court arrangements which precluded her from leaving Mackay and she wanted to leave to care for her very sick father.
“John Smith was a man on the internet chatroom and he successfully preyed on a very vulnerable individual.”
When caught, Ing gave police three phone numbers for John Smith and his email address.
Ing had never met John Smith in person and all her dealings with him had been via the internet or phone.
Ms Morton said Ing suffered health issues and was receiving counselling and support from family and friends.
Magistrate Athol Kenney said he accepted that Ing was preyed upon and that her offence lacked sophistication and was destined to be detected.
Ing was jailed for 15 months, suspended immediately for two years.
She was also placed on probation for two years with a special condition that she continues counselling.
In addition she was ordered to make restitution of $21,481 within two years.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.