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12 February 2011

Teenage credit card scam ends in court for Telstra and Optus customers

A "BRILLIANT" Ipswich teen orchestrated a cunning scheme to rip off scores of victims using an unpaid phone bill scam.

The teen, who was aged 14 and 15 at the time, called numerous victims between May and October, 2009, claiming to work for Telstra or Optus and told them their bills were overdue.

He said if they did not pay him over the phone using their credit card, their mobile service would be disconnected.

The teen used the fraudulently obtained credit cards to pay for computer games, movies, pizza and taxis with the total value reaching $4253.54.

When asked, the boy gave the phone number of sim cards he obtained by scamming an Ipswich phone store.

In a daring move, he tried to get a loan of $120 from a finance company by claiming he was a senior constable at Ipswich Police Station.

Ipswich District Court heard the teen, now aged 16, had admitted a string of similar offences in December 2009.

The boy, who cannot be named, claimed he found the names and phone numbers in the White Pages and cold-called people.

But Judge Deborah Richards said she found his explanation dubious as he knew specific details about his victims, including that a woman had recently opened a new account with the same phone company.

Judge Richards said children's criminal offences were usually impulsive and it was surprising how meticulously planned the teen's operation was.

"There were obviously other people involved from time to time – that makes it smack of professionalism," she said.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis said the teen had shown remorse to the individual victims but not the phone companies.

"He indicated the companies should have had better security systems in place to stop the offending occurring," he said.

The teen, who wore a grey pinstripe suit to court, pleaded guilty to nine counts of impersonation, seven of fraud and three of attempted fraud.

He was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and will be on probation for two years.

No convictions were recorded.

Defence barrister Steve Kissick said his client was intelligent and had very impressive computer skills.

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