A Melbourne paralegal who stole nearly $2million from his property clients and blew it on the stock market has been jailed for four years
Dominic Mak created fake Mandarin-language email chains to pull the wool over his Chinese clients’ eyes.
He also pretended his personal bank account details were those of his employer, Nevile and Co Commercial Lawyers.
This allowed him to reap more than $1.9million from three property clients between September 2018 and May 2019.
The former church youth group leader was jailed in Victoria’s County Court on Thursday.
He pleaded guilty to five counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and must serve half of his four-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
‘I am truly remorseful for what I have done. I also understand that my crimes must not go unpunished,’ the 28-year-old said in an apology to his former employer, read by Judge Michael Cahill.
‘I am fully prepared to account for my actions.
‘I do hope that one day I will be able to make it up (to those I have hurt).’
Mak scammed three different clients after losing his savings on the online trading platform Plus500.
He said he’d used their money to try to regain his own savings and intended to repay the clients, but lost their funds as well.
He bought shares in a medical research company and a lithium mining company, used it to return some stolen money, and spent it on travel and entertainment.
Mak had previously taken out a $30,000 loan for his wedding and was under pressure from his family to buy a home.
He created fake requests for transfers, twice fabricating an email chain in Mandarin to make it look like he’d obtained a client’s permission.
At one point, a law firm colleague sought to make sure a transfer request was legitimate and made Mak call the client in front of her.
The paralegal staged a video conference in Mandarin and said it was all fine.
He also gave a customer his personal bank details and said they were for the firm’s trust account.
Mak was caught out when he couldn’t return a $510,000 deposit, admitted he’d invested it and needed time.
He is still working to pay back what he stole.