She was their trusted friend, their financial adviser, and for more than six years, Linnet Lewis used that very trust and friendship to steal just over $1 million from elderly clients.
Lewis, 55, was convicted on Friday at the Rotorua High Court to five years and five months imprisonment after pleading guilty to 16 charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
Over a period of six-and-a-half years Lewis used her position as a trusted financial adviser to steal from her clients, some them in their 90s.
Prosecuting for the Serious Fraud Office, which led the investigation, Fletcher Pilditch said sums ranging from $15,000 to $250,000 were stolen from individual clients for Lewis’ own personal use and that the loss of trust had been devastating.
“It’s not just the money for the victims,” he said.
“They are people who believed in a handshake and believed in trust. That vulnerability was exploited by the offender.”
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Story by Benn Bathgate: Published 19 June 2015