Home detention for student loan fraud

A student who assumed the identities of friends and family members to illegally pocket $43,000 in student loans and allowances has been sentenced to four-and-a-half months of home detention.

Stacey Jane Curtis, aka Natasha Lee Watts, used nine false identities to fraudulently obtain the cash between 2008 and 2010 in what the Ministry of Social Development called a "sophisticated and cunning scheme".

The 25-year-old, who earlier pleaded guilty in Christchurch District Court to 23 charges of fraud, applied for the money by saying she was attending various tertiary institutions.

Today, she was given the four-and-a-half month period of home detention after Judge Philippa Cunningham accepted her life was now going in a "positive direction".

Defence counsel Errol Parsons said Curtis, originally from the West Coast of the South Island had moved to Auckland, which was a city unfamiliar to her and the offending occurred from there.

She was now living in Christchurch with her mother, had enrolled in a personal development course at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, and was "trying to make a new life," Mr Parsons said.


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