A victim of an audacious local credit card scam still feels “violated” and “paranoid” – despite seeing one of the fraudsters caged for 14 months.
Marcelo Da Silva Araujo, part-owner of a downtown bar and nightclub, was jailed at Queenstown District Court on Monday for using forged bank cards between June and October last year.
He admitted to a number of thefts from ATM machines. The Brazilian swindler was operating with an accomplice who fled the country after the pair raked in thousands of dollars from visitors.
Araujo told police he saw it as an easy way to make money and believed it was a “victimless crime” as banks would reimburse the cash.
His comments have enraged resort-based radio journalist Steve Wilde, who had $500 swiped from his BNZ account during the sting.
“I’m absolutely delighted this guy has been jailed,” Wilde says.
“We have to send a message to people like this – that Queenstown isn’t a soft touch.
“Calling it a victimless crime is an insult to everyone affected and I still feel violated by the whole experience.
“I just feel sick that I went out to a bar in my home town for a few drinks and a good time and ended up being callously fleeced.”
Wilde goes on: “As a result, I’m paranoid that people are watching me and I now use cash instead of my bank card when paying for things.”
Araujo, 39, took forged cards – created by a workmate who also obtained pin details from customers at the bar – and travelled to Dunedin to withdraw cash from several ATM machines.
He also made other attempts to get money from ATMs in Frankton. All up he stole $4700.
It is believed Araujo’s accomplice withdrew the money from Wilde’s account using a cloned card at a cash machine at Remarkables Park in October.
“It’s disappointing that the mastermind of this scam managed to get out of the country before he was caught, but I’m glad the other guy got a custodial sentence instead of just being deported, which is what I expected,” Wilde says.
“What disappoints me the most is that these people were invited to come and work in our country and town and then chose to turn around and stick two fingers up at us.”
The name of the Queenstown bar involved can’t be revealed due to a permanent suppression order.