Gold scammer ripped off bushfire victim

Gold scammer ripped off bushfire victim

The shiny gold bars Loucas Louca was selling on eBay were stamped with the name of a genuine gold supplier and packaged in a black velvet drawstring bag.

They looked how a person buying one ounce gold bars would expect them to look.

The Melbourne pensioner passed them off as 99.9 per cent pure but they were only gold enamel – zinc and copper with just 1.6 per cent gold plating.

Spending an insurance payout after losing his home in the Mallacoota bushfire, a Victorian man thought he was getting the real deal.

Instead he forked out a fortune for 52 gold bars that were worth just $20 each.

Louca, 64, pleaded guilty in Victoria's County Court to charges of obtaining and attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception.

The disability pensioner also admitted fleeing the state while on bail – he was arrested in Brisbane after an unrelated traffic incident.

Prosecutor Alexander Albert told a pre-sentence hearing on Tuesday that Louca had three victims, including the Mallacoota man, scamming $129,952.40 from them.

Louca sold the counterfeit bullion on eBay using a false seller name and providing false account holder details. Payment was made to bank accounts he also established in false names.

His first two victims bought four gold bars but discovered they were counterfeit after having them valued.

One of them decided to buy three more from Louca, but not pay for them, in the hope it would help police catch him.

The Mallacoota man also saw the bullion advertised on eBay and explained he was investing in gold because he had lost his house and possessions in the Mallacoota fires and had recently received a payout.

Mr Albert said Louca had expressed sympathy to the man.

“Hopefully everything will be OK in future. Main thing is you are still alive,” Louca wrote.

The man received 20 gold bars and was told by Louca that because he'd been a “good customer” he could have another 32 bars for $73,000. He accepted but that package was intercepted by police.

County Court Judge Daniel Holding said Louca had enriched himself through the scam.

“It's just an odd case in that he doesn't seem to have spent it,” he said.

Louca has repaid all but $9000 of the money he stole.

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