Woman who dishonestly gets $20,000 after selling same imported car to two other customers sentenced

A woman who conned two other clients out of TOP$20,000 in a car sale fraud received suspended sentence for 24 months.

‘Ana Toe’umu Latu pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining by false pretences.

She advertised a car for sale and a customer paid the money for it.

Pretending it was still hers she sold the same car to two other people.

The court was told that in February 2020  Latu advertised a 2007 Toyota Corolla Rumion for $9,800.00 on a Facebook page that has the name “Tonga Garage Sale”.

Part of the deal was that the customer has to make a deposit because this vehicle was to be imported from Yokohama, Japan and to cover freight fee and customs duty.

A woman by the name of Musie Funaki bought the car.  She first paid the deposit then paid the balance before the car arrived in Tonga in early June 2020. .

Latu then advertised the car again on the Facebook page.

The court judgement said two other customers,  Malaea Tonga’uiha was induced to pay $9,800 while Litiola Lutui paid $11,426.66.

On 15 August 2020 Miss Lutui and her partner went to see the car but it had gone. They  found out that Miss Funaki had it and that they had been conned.

Both Lutui and Tongata’uiha reported Latu to the police.

In sentencing Latu Justice Cooper said: ” Miss Latu was of hitherto good character. I take into account what she told probation about falling victim to a fraud herself and her money problems that arose from that.

“I also note that she cares for her mother in law who is very poorly and wheel chair bound

“I have considered a number of cases in relation to fraud, value and sentence tariff”.

“Because of her cooperation and lack of previous convictions I am just persuaded that her remorse is true because of her guilty plea and so I suspend her sentence.

“Her sentence is one of 17 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months.

If during that time she commits any offence punishable by imprisonment she stands to be sentenced for this offence as well as the new offence”.

She must also serve 180 hours community service to be completed at the direction of her probation officer.

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