Scammer claims mum will die if he’s jailed

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A conman who scammed small businesses out of nearly $100,000 in fake insurance policies has claimed there will be fatal consequences for his “wrongful conviction”.

Samuel Tessa, 56, appeared before the County Court of Victoria on Friday after he was found guilty by a jury on charges of obtaining property by deception and obtaining financial advantage by deception between May 2011 and April 2017.

Tessa, who was born in the Soviet Union and emigrated to Australia in his early teens, had to be removed briefly from the courtroom after an outburst where he claimed the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had been conspiring against him.

“They’ve made a mockery of my licencing arrangements,” he said.

“They lie and provide false documents … ASIC is responsible, they should be on trial.”

He told the court if he was “punished unjustly”, his elderly mother and son would suffer.

“There’s an 87-year-old lady who will face fatal consequences because I’m the prime and sole caretaker,” he said.

Tessa said his 22-year-old son, who was studying law at Melbourne university would have to drop out.

“He might end up on the street without his father’s support and guidance,” he said.

“Society will lose a bright future where he can contribute.”

Tessa was convicted and jailed for scamming five businesses by offering fake insurance policies. Picture: Supplied.Tessa was convicted and jailed for scamming five businesses by offering fake insurance policies. Picture: Supplied.

The court heard the Elwood man did not hold a financial services licence when he began approaching small automotive repair businesses across Melbourne promising business insurance that was cheaper than their current policies.

Through his company, Review Financial Services, he conned his five victims out of more than $94,000.

The fraud was exposed in December 2017 after an investigation by ASIC which found he was not authorised to run an insurance business and the businesses did not have genuine insurance coverage.

The court heard he may be forced to pay the regulator back the cost of investigating him, which totalled more than $120,000.

One business owner, who had paid more than $40,000 to Tessa said learning his insurance was a hoax had caused him “great shame”.

“My business is based on trust … when Mr Tessa lied to me, he made me a liar,” he aid in a victim impact statement.

Elwood man Samuel Tessa scammed unwitting small businesses by selling them invalid policies and was found guilty of fraud offences in December 2022. SuppliedElwood man Samuel Tessa scammed unwitting small businesses by selling them invalid policies and was found guilty of fraud offences in December 2022. Supplied

Tessa, who represented himself in court, was seen pacing around the dock and vigorously shaking his head as Judge Felicity Hampel summarised his offending.

“You were the architect and sole operator of a fake insurance scheme and benefited solely from it,” she said.

“You maintain you are a law-abiding citizen that was wrongly convicted … this demonstrates a pattern of doing what you like when you like regardless of the impact on others.”

She said there was “no evidence” to support his claims of a conspiracy or cover-up by ASIC, saying his baseless claims defied logic.

Tessa was sentenced to a two-year and 10-month term of imprisonment and will be eligible for parole after one year and eight months.

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