31 Mar 2015

Top judge among fraudster's victims

5:37 pm on 31 March 2015

A fraudster has been jailed for scamming more than $200,000 from seven people, including one of the country's top judges.

James David Stewart pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court to using people's personal details to get phone-banking staff to let him change details and withdraw cash from their accounts in July and August 2013.

He used bank details to change passwords through a call centre, then transfer money to a temporary account from where it would be immediately withdrawn.

One of his victims, Rhys Harrison, is one of eight judges who sit on the Court of Appeal.

Stewart had already been jailed for two years and three months for the computer offending, but he was sentenced today to a total of more than five years for drug offences and driving and crashing a stolen car.

It has been revealed that he had 146 previous convictions.

The judge at the District Court in Auckland, Judge John Bergseng, said Stewart had a history of drug and dishonesty convictions.

"They are significant. You have, on my count, 49 fraud or obtaining by deception charges between 2006 and 2011, you have general dishonesty convictions, you have a number of burglary convictions..."