Dodgy tradie jailed for home improvement scam

A SERIAL fraudster who posed as a general handyman and answered advertisements for home improvement jobs across the Clarence Valley but never did the work, scamming his victims $6800 out of pocket, has been jailed.

Mark Andrew Hughes appeared in Grafton Local Court on Tuesday for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

The court heard the offences date between September 2018 and January 2019, and involved Hughes answering four separate adverts on Facebook community groups from across the Clarence from people looking to engage a tradesman for general home improvement work.

According to the agreed facts, the 47-year-old answered the advertisements as part his general handyman service A1 Complete Property Maintenance and in each case responded to notices posted on Facebook groups asking for work to be done.

The court heard Hughes responded to the posts made by the victims and arranged to give a quote over what services he could provide before requesting an initial deposit.

Hughes collected $6800 in deposits from his four victims, but despite many requests and attempts from the victims to contact Hughes he never completed any of the jobs, and only made a start on the fourth project he was contracted to complete. Court documents reveal none of the money has been recovered.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden said the harm and distress caused by the fraud to the victims must be acknowledged, and that there was a need for general and specific deterrence considering the seriousness of the offences and how contacting a handyman for work over social media is common.

“The amount of money involved in the offences is towards the lower end of the scale but is not insignificant,” the magistrate said.

“The victims, who in good faith engaged the offender for home improvement

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Foreign Hacker Sentenced in $1M Scam Targeting Federal Employees and Contractors

A foreign national charged with setting up fake government websites, hacking federal employees’ emails and defrauding agency contractors of almost $1 million has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison.

According to federal investigators, Olumide Ogunremi, 43, a citizen of Nigeria who also goes by the name Tony Williams, was part of a criminal ring that used phishing emails and counterfeit websites to trick federal employees into giving up their digital credentials, which were then used to buy goods to sell on the black market.

In the latter half of 2013, Ogunremi and his co-conspirators sent phishing emails to employees at several federal agencies directing them to fake websites, “including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to a Justice Department release.

“Unwitting employees of the agencies visited the fake web pages and provided their email account usernames and passwords,” Justice officials said.

The group then used those valid credentials to place orders—mostly for printer toner cartridges—with vendors contracted through the General Services Administration. The commercial goods were then shipped to scammers’ addresses in New Jersey before being repackaged and sent to Nigeria to be sold through underground markets.

The scheme netted almost $1 million in stolen office products before being shut down, according to prosecutors.

Inspectors general from several agencies contributed to the investigation, including EPA, GSA and the Commerce Department, as well as investigators with the Defense Department’s Cyber Field Office and the FBI.

Ogunremi was originally set to plead guilty to the wire fraud charges in March 2018 but fled to Canada prior to a court appearance. He was extradited from Canada and returned to the U.S. in September 2019 to stand trial.

Last week, Ogunremi was ordered to pay $68,618 in restitution and sentenced to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of

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