Woman admits quake claims fraud

A Christchurch property developer today admitted forging invoices from tradesmen to lodge inflated earthquake insurance claims.

The 42-year-old, who has name suppression, was due to stand trial on 21 charges relating to EQC (Earthquake Commission) fraud.

But the woman made surprise guilty pleas to two representative "wrap up" charges ahead of a scheduled jury trial at Christchurch District Court this morning.

The court heard how the defendant, director of a property development firm, owned five properties in Christchurch.

During the magnitude 7.1 earthquake of September 4, 2010, two properties she'd bought with her partner just months prior to the quake suffered damage.

Three days after the devastating jolt, which sparked the Canterbury earthquake sequence, she lodged an internet insurance claim with EQC.

She got her partner to spend a day carrying out repairs to the property, but claimed that he'd spent 10 days on the work, a police summary of facts states.

She later constructed an invoice in the name of a builders company and claimed $7250 for repairs.

An investigation found that the building company was a fake and that some of the work claimed on the invoice never occurred.

A later invoice for repairs valued at $2855 was submitted, but EQC inquiries found that the work claimed was "inflated and... excessive".

The other charge related to three properties she'd bought in November 2010.

Invoices and receipts for repairs were later found to be falsified.

Today she pleaded guilty to a representative charge that between September 7, 2010 and March 28, 2011, she made various false documents with intention to use them to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

She also admitted knowingly using forged documents as if they were genuine.

Judge Stephen O'Driscoll discharged the jury, called for pre-sentence reports and ordered that name suppression continues until the nominal sentencing date of May 14 when an argument for final name suppression will be made.

She still denies two tenancy agreement fraud charges, which will be argued at a trial before Judge O'Driscoll alone tomorrow.

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