MELBOURNE, Australia — A jailed and unlicensed financial adviser who claims he’s a stockbroker orchestrated an 11-year AUD 2.7 million ($2.08 million) Ponzi scheme ripping off his own family and friends.
Matthew Waij did not finish his Deakin University commerce degree and was never qualified to provide financial advice.
He defrauded victims, including his stepfather of a combined AUD 2.7 million ($2.08 million) between 2006 and 2017, splashing the cash on personal expenses including flights, fitness, and fried chicken.
Waij, who is serving time for a separate fraud conviction, pleaded guilty in Victoria’s County Court on April 21 for 16 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.
He also admitted one count of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception and another of theft.
The 38-year-old took nearly AUD 45,000 ($34,711) from the superannuation account of his stepfather, Sidney Aspland.
Aspland informed the court he was horrified to discover Waij, whom he considered a son, had “cheated” him out of his entire superannuation by the time he turned 64.
“This was not an accident he deliberately set out to rob me of my wealth,” Aspland said.
“The hardest thing to handle daily is a lack of trust. I’m an easy-going bloke, but since dealing with Matthew Waij, I now don’t have faith in anyone or anything I’m told.
“He’s not welcome in my home – not now or ever in the future.”
Waij’s uncle, William Harding, who with his wife lost nearly AUD 168,000 ($129,589), said he felt there was “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
“My dreams for the future are all gone,” Harding said.
“He was such a coward for taking advantage of relatives — I used to take him fishing and to the pub for a drink.”
Another victim, dairy farmer Robert Seabrook, who lost AUD 260,000 ($200,554) to Waij, described the 38-year-old as the “worst liar” he’d ever met.
“I’m sure all of us hope Matthew is locked up and the keys are thrown away,” Seabrook said.
Another couple lost AUD 213,528 ($164,708). Court documents showed Waij set up a self-managed super fund for the man under the name “Harv Dog Super Fund.”
He also spent part of it “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” in what Judge Douglas Trapnell likened to a Ponzi scheme.
“When the music stops, there’s a lot of people who don’t have a chair to sit on,” the judge said.
Judge Trapnell also said Waij utilized a “cloak of believability” he had through his studies, despite failing to graduate.
He added it was “interesting” Waij had listed his occupation as a “stockbroker” when asked in court.
Waij will be sentenced at a later date.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Ojaswin Kathuria)
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