Con man jailed for 18 months
A self-confessed con man yesterday received 18 months' imprisonment for dishonestly obtaining more than $17,000 from two victims.
Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner told Jonathan Ratteray, 26, from Smith's: “You are a con man.”
He replied: “Yes, very much so. I have a problem.”
Ratteray appeared in Magistrates' Court having pleaded guilty in August to ten counts of dishonestly obtaining property between May 2 and June 26 this year.
In each case Ratteray told the victims the money was being invested and guaranteed quick returns. He instead used the funds to pay his personal bills.
Ratteray met his first victim, Marekco Ratteray, of no relation, in a holding cell at Hamilton Police Station. Ratteray told him that he had a friend who makes investments in the US stock market. He promised that if Mr Ratteray were to give him $2,000 to invest that he would have $4,000 by the end of the week.
The victim gave the defendant $2,000 and $1,400 on May 2 and May 3 respectively, and was told he would receive a return on his investment by May 4. However on May 4, Ratteray broke off contact with the victim without returning any money.
A month later, Ratteray met Sarah Robinson through a mutual friend and the two began to talk to each other through the “Whatsapp” social networking app.
During their conversations, Ratteray asked Ms Robinson if she was interested in making quick money. He told Ms Robinson that if she were to give him $5,000 to invest, she would see a return of $2,000 within two weeks. When she told Ratteray she was unemployed and couldn't afford to lose money in what sounded like a pyramid scheme, he sent her a picture of a large quantity of US cash which he said he was counting for his investors. She asked if she could receive a guarantee in writing. He responded there was nothing for her to sign because the investment was “underhanded stuff”, but he would be willing to sign something for her. He also warned Ms Robinson not to tell anyone about the dealings.
Ms Robinson initially gave Ratteray $500, but she invested more and more into the scheme over the month as he promised greater returns. Ratteray also promised to get Ms Robinson in contact with the man who he claimed was making the investments in the US, Davion Lewis. He then contacted Ms Robinson through a social networking app called Hooked, under the name Davion Lewis.
Ratteray was then able to lure Ms Robinson into investing even more, despite her repeated requests for her money to be returned. By June 26, Ms Robinson had invested a total of $13,940 without receiving a penny in return. When Ratteray was arrested, he confessed to taking money from both of the victims. He said he used the cash to pay bills and other personal expenses and that he was the only person involved in the scheme.
Ratteray has a history of dishonesty offences dating back to 2001, and had been sentenced to 12 months in prison by the Supreme Court in 2007 for similar crimes.
On that occasion, he convinced former cricketer Ernest (Barry) DeCouto to donate money to a friend who needed help paying his mother's medical bills.
Instead, he spent the $74,600 on a car, a motorcycle, a plasma-screen television and overseas shopping trips.