$1m stolen as property investors duped

Property investors are being reminded to approach investment opportunities with caution as a woman, who had associations with the AFL club Collingwood, was sentenced to jail for deceiving victims into putting their money towards bogus property developments.

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Former company director Maureen Johnston was sentenced to five-and-a-half years jail after an investigation found she deceived victims into investing money in supposed property developments in the United States and Australia.

Rather, Johnston spent the funds on gambling and repaying credit card debt.

Johnston pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, totaling $1,027,000.

According to ASIC, many of the victims met and developed friendships with Johnston and her husband through their close association with the Collingwood Football Club.


In sentencing at the County Court of Victoria, the Honourable Judge Wendy Wilmoth said Ms Johnston’s actions were “intentionally dishonest and blatantly opportunistic.”

She also backed comments from a victim who described Johnston as “absolutely ghoulish, atrocious and heartless.”

Watch out for scams

Investment scams are often professional and believable, according to ASIC, and hard for even the most experienced property investors to tell apart from genuine opportunities.

The corporate regulator, ASIC, has a series of tools and checklists for investors who suspect they’ve spotted a scam. You can access the toolkit here.


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