Elderly fraudster jailed over million dollar bank scam

AN AGING Sunshine Coast conman who orchestrated an elaborate international banking scam has been sentenced to five years in jail.

Robert Alexander Cowley, 73, convinced a woman to invest about $1.3 million in a fake company that he pretended was a multinational business.

Brisbane District Court heard on Tuesday Cowley went to great lengths to set up bank accounts and offices around the world so it would be "almost impossible" to trace where the money had gone to.

He deposited small amounts of the woman's own money back into her account to"maintain the ruse" and make her believe she was getting returns for her investment.

Letters, purporting to be signed by various employees of his company were in fact forged by him.

Crown Prosecutor Susan Hedge said Cowley's victim invested all of her uncle's life savings into the fake company and the loss of nearly all of the money had caused a rift in the family.

She said bank records showed tens of thousands of dollars "moving in and out" of Cowley's account, sometimes to a company registered as Swiss Developments Pty Ltd but it was not possible to connect those funds with the stolen money.

She also said Cowley owned two properties worth in excess of $300,000 and $500,000, regularly flew to London, was by no means living a "frugal" lifestyle at the time of his offending which was motivated solely by financial gain.

A jury found Cowley guilty of fraud and forgery in a trial late last year.

It can now be revealed he was previously jailed for three years for defrauding another victim of about $140,000.

Defence barrister Joshua Fenton said his client was of an age where he needed constant medical attention and had recently been moved into a single jail cell where he needed to sit in a special chair for much of the day as a result of prostate problems.

He said his client was in charge of running the jail library, "a sensible way" for an elderly prisoner to serve their time and asked the court to consider how crushing a lengthy sentence could be on someone of "advanced age".

But Judge Deborah Richards said Cowley had shown no remorse.

She said he "promised" his victim the capital would be safe and pretended the company was a "legitimate and bigger firm than it actually was".

She described the documents Cowley had provided to the woman, including safe custody receipts as "not being worth the paper they were written on".

Cowley was sentenced to five years in jail. He will be eligible to apply for parole in 18 months.


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