Conman who swindled $40,000 in three weeks jailed

THREE weeks was all it took for a Sunshine Coast businessman to lose $40,000 after investing it with a crook he met via an online networking site.

James Galbraith, 53, was sentenced in the Maroochydore District Court this week to two years jail after pleading guilty to a charge of fraud.

A statement of facts tendered to the Maroochydore District Court said the businessman agreed to invest with Galbraith in a gold mine in Belize and an online trading system.

They men signed an agreement to each invest $40,000 capital each in a partnership which was to operate through two shelf companies and accounts to be obtained by Galbraith.

When Galbraith was unable to establish the companies or accounts by the due date, he offered to hold the money in trust in another account. But Galbraith failed to tell the investor that the account was left over from a former business for which he still owed money.

Within 24 hours of the businessman's depositing his $40,000, $10,000 had been transferred out of the account as under the heading "xmas payment". More transfers followed.

The statement of facts tendered to the court outlined how more money was transferred in and out of two

accounts over a three-week period. By January 10, 2013 - 20 days after the initial investment - all that was left of the businessman's money was $80.28.

The businessman and his wife began legal action in February 2012 and reached agreement for him to repay the debt, but he failed to honour it. The police were then contacted.

Galbraith, who had no prior criminal history, will serve six months behind bars before the remainder of his sentence is suspended for three years.