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A Melbourne man pretended to be the Victorian premier, the finance minister and the ombudsman in an elaborate scheme to con his father out of more than $150,000.
Peter Michael Baird, 50, began deceiving his father in 2012 when the older man asked for help to unlock a frozen bank account.
A Melbourne man pretended to be the Victorian premier, the finance minister and the ombudsman in an elaborate scheme to con his father out of more than $150,000.Credit: Wayne Taylor
Baird said he would contact the ombudsman about the issue, but instead applied for two loans in his father’s name, totalling more than $77,000.
He also contacted Centrelink and had his father’s age pension payments redirected to his personal bank account.
Between June 2013 and May 2020, Baird received $152,423.33 in payments that should have gone to his father.
Whenever the older man asked about his locked bank account, Baird said he was working with the ombudsman and the government to resolve the issue.
His father repeatedly received calls and emails purporting to be from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, then-finance minister Robin Scott, MP Kim Wells and the Victorian Ombudsman about his locked account.
When the pensioner eventually contacted those offices directly, there was no record of those conversations.
Baird’s crimes were uncovered in May 2020 when he was jailed for separate deceptions.
He pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to obtaining financial advantage and property by deception and on Tuesday was sentenced to four years in jail.
County Court judge Frank Gucciardo described Baird’s actions as reprehensible, saying they “defied decency”.
“This behaviour breaches fundamental principles of trust and familial care, respect and responsibility in order to deceive for your own benefit and greed,” the judge said in his sentencing remarks.
Baird’s father had to work part-time and rely on financial support from his partner, which led to undue stress, Gucciardo said.
The judge accepted Baird had shown some remorse, noting he had no drug, alcohol or gambling addictions and instead used the money to pay rent and support his children.
But Gucciardo said his prospects of rehabilitation were guarded, and the serious conduct needed to be punished.
Baird will be eligible for parole after three years and three months in custody.
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