A failed Queensland gambler stole identities and forged passports to gain control of Chinese expatriates' homes so he could secure loans to repay millions of dollars in debts and fund his lifestyle.
Chinese-Australian Hui Tian, 34, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Wednesday to more than 20 fraud and dishonesty offences between April 2015 and June 2017 that netted him about $7.9 million.
Tian's crime spree started when he stole about $1 million from his Chinese father-in-law's bank account using a forged power of attorney. He gambled away the money at Brisbane's Treasury Casino in two days, prosecutor Noel Needham said.
"The father-in-law was always going to find the money gone. Unless he had a good weekend at the casino, which was highly unlikely, he was always going to be found out," Mr Needham said.
"He indicated to police he had a gambling problem since about 2008, he was in debt and he was gambling to try and recoup his losses."
After he was released on bail, Tian stole his wealthy Chinese neighbour Xin Zhong Han and his wife's identities so he could use their Brisbane home to secure a million-dollar loan from Prime Capital Securities.
This involved forging his neighbour's passports and drivers licences, and duping them into letting Prime's property valuers into their home under the guise of a property investment opportunity.
The fraud was only discovered because Mr Han received a letter from the Queensland titles office saying Prime had placed a million-dollar mortgage over his home because Tian had used it to secure his loan.
"It's a much more complex fraud ... a lot of quite elaborate steps - going to a solicitors office, posing, fooling his friends - in circumstances where a simple titles search was the thing that led to him being undone," Mr Needham said.
Tian's next victims were two more Chinese nationals, a Mr Lu and a Mr Li, who Tian impersonated to steal their identities and ultimately sell one of the men's ritzy Gold Coast homes.
To pull off the complex fraud Tian used a private investigator to follow Mr Lu's mother in China and learn her maiden name. He then used the information to call the Australian Passport Office to gain access to Mr Lu's identity.
With it, he then obtained more documents in Mr Lu's name from the Brisbane City Council for a company registered under his victim's name, which enabled him to secure further loans.
Later, Tian sold Mr Li's home on Knightsbridge Parade in the Sovereign Islands to the company for about $5 million.
"Through internet searches, (Tian) was able to establish the value of the property ... he then had a person in China make a fake Chinese passport with (Mr Li's) details and a photograph of (himself)," Mr Needham said.
"And that was really the baseline that opened the door for him."
It netted him about $2.5 million before a rate notice sent to Mr Li showing the property he continued to live in was owned by the company led to the ruse being uncovered.
In total, Tian fraudulently obtained $7,899,191.92. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Australian Associated Press