Scammer pleads guilty to ‘heartbreaking’, ‘serious’ thefts

A Facebook Marketplace scammer ripped off numerous people including a 14-year-old who had saved up to buy a phone.

Danielle Lee-Beck, 25, appeared in the Invercargill District Court this week after pleading guilty to dishonestly accessing a computer system, accessing a computer system with intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage and two charges of theft.

The woman had offended on separate occasions that were more than a year apart, the court heard.

Counsel Scott Williamson said the gap showed his client could avoid the scammer lifestyle.

"She’s clearly gone off the rails," he said.

Between October 15, 2021 and April 8, 2022 Lee-Beck had befriended a victim and taken more than $2000 of miscellaneous items from his house.

He had confronted her about it and asked that she return the items, but she never did.

When the police spoke to the defendant, she said she had not stolen anything, only borrowed items that she promised she would return.

Items valued at $250 were still missing.

On November 22, 2021, Lee-Beck posted an iPhone for sale on Facebook Marketplace under an alias.

She and the victim agreed on a price of $408 which he paid.

She gave the buyer an invalid post tracking number, and when the victim questioned her she made multiple excuses before blocking him.

Similarly, in July last year the woman sold a non-existent iPhone to a 14-year-old girl on Facebook Marketplace for $700.

A statement from the victim detailed how she had saved hard to buy a phone.

"It’s heartbreaking," Judge Duncan Harvey said.

"I want you to know that this offending is serious."

Judge Harvey sentenced Lee-Beck to six months’ community detention and 12 months’ supervision.

He ordered her to pay $1358 reparation.

"I suggest to you that you do not get involved in offending of this nature again, because next time you could well go to prison," the judge said.