Corrections order for woman who tried to defraud Bendigo banks

A TEENAGER who tried to defraud more than a million dollars from Bendigo banks has been placed on a two-year community corrections order.

Stacey Fishman, then known by her maiden name of Young, drew 45 valueless cheques between February 2009 and November 2010, and withdrew $15,481 against them.

The fraudulent cheques included four from Reader’s Digest that allowed more than a million dollars to sit in her account undetected by the Bendigo Bank for 10 days.

Fishman, now 22 and living in Ironbark, pleaded guilty in the County Court yesterday to one count of obtaining property by deception and four counts of attempting to obtain property by deception.

Prosecutor Peter Jones said Fishman had set up accounts at the ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth and Bendigo banks.

Mr Jones said Fishman successfully stole $15,481 from Bendigo Bank and tried to steal more than $1 million more.

She tried to steal $36,000 from the Commonwealth Bank, $82,000 from ANZ and $8000 from Westpac, all by drawing and depositing several worthless cheques.

The court heard Fishman banked four cheques worth $575,000 that were not dishonoured for 10 days because of staffing shortages at Bendigo Bank.

Fishman was arrested in February 2009 and police recovered items she had bought with the stolen money.

But Fishman continued to offend until she was again arrested in December 2010.

Fishman’s lawyer Janine Gleeson conceded this was an “aggravating factor” in her client’s offending.

But Ms Gleeson said the amount of money actually stolen was relatively small and that Fishman’s offending “lacked sophistication” and was “extremely immature”.

She said Fishman had a low IQ and didn’t properly understand that just the act of drawing the false cheques was illegal, even if they weren’t honoured.

Judge Jane Patrick accepted Fishman’s “low cognitive ability” and said she was “puzzled” by what to do with her. 

“This is gross dishonesty on a large scale,” she said. 

“You continued offending despite being spoken to by police twice.”

But Ms Patrick said Fishman’s young age and the “difficulties she faced” meant a jail term was not suitable punishment.

She imposed 200 hours of community work as part of the corrections order. 

Fishman was also ordered to pay more than $13,000 in compensation.

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