Dunedin fraudster used Lomu photo

A man set up a profile using a photo of dead All Black legend Jonah Lomu while ripping off four people online, a court has heard.

Tyrone Andrews (27), a Dunedin plasterer, was unemployed at the time and struggling with substance abuse, counsel Sophia Thorburn told the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Needing quick cash, the defendant took to Facebook where he listed an iPhone for sale urgently.

If he could not sell it that day, he would take it to a pawn shop, he wrote, in a bid to entice bidders.

Andrews repeated the scam four times between February 19 and March 5, the court heard.

According to a summary of facts, rather than use a photo of his own face, the defendant used an image of former All Black rampaging winger Lomu, who died nearly three years ago.

The victims would contact him, agree to a price, provide a courier address and then transfer the money to the nominated account.

Andrews would then ignore the queries of those he ripped off and deactivated his account or blocked them to avoid further confrontation.

When approached by police, the man was candid about his internet fraud.

''The defendant admitted the facts as outlined. He stated in explanation that he had been in a really bad place at the time and knew that it was only a matter of time before he would be spoken to about taking the victims money,'' police said.

Judge Michael Turner said the offending had cost the victims a total of more than $1300 and had been particularly hard on some of them because of their youth.

One teenager, he said, had worked three jobs to save up for the non-existent phone, while another had used inheritance cash to make the doomed purchase.

''They all feel embarrassed to be taken in by you but angry, justifiably,'' the judge said.

''These type of sales over the internet rely on the integrity of the vendor. You had none.''

Ms Thorburn said her client felt ''terrible'' about what he had done and had stabilised his life in the last six months.

He had saved the money to repay the victims, which Judge Turner said was the most important factor at sentencing.

Andrews was ordered to pay the $1313 in a lump sum yesterday.

He was also sentenced to three months' community detention with a weekend curfew.