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QLD My experience with Myer Online - Charged with Fraud

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by MyerOne, 22 July 2014.

  1. MyerOne

    MyerOne Member

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    Hello

    Late last year I purchased some items online from the Myer website at a very reduced price. I then decided to keep some of the merchandise and return the ones that I didn't like (unopened and in pristine condition). I did not have a receipt as the online function of their website, etc was down. I did however take my credit card statement and delivery dockets for the items with me upon returning the items.

    Myers return policy states the following:


    Upon returning the items, I was giving a Returns Gift Card for the items at more than what I paid for them. I did query the Sales Person at the time and said that that is not what I paid for them. They said that, that is what the system has them as the price and that is in line with their current returns policy.

    So I went on my merry way and used the cards over the next couple of months.

    Today I have had an interview with the Police, as Myer wants to charge me with Fraud. I explained the above situation to the Police and they have said that as I made a personal gain from it, then it was Fraud. If I had bought them cheaply and then sold them on Ebay for a profit, then that is not considered Fraud. I said that I had pointed out to Myer that that is not what I paid for the items and that if I was trying to be deceitful and commit Fraud, then why would I use my MyerOne card for future purchases, when I know that all purchases can be tracked. I also mentioned that I brought it to the attention of the Store Manager and this took 4 attempts over two weeks before he would pay any attention to me.

    I have had a look on the Qld site regarding Fraud and it states:

    My question is, given Myers above Returns Policy on returning items without a receipt can I be charged with Fraud as I do not believe that there was an absence of control or safeguards and I was not trying to be deceptive or dishonest.

    If I am charged, what are my chances in Court?

    I have never been accused of anything like this before in my life and I have no criminal record. I make a very conscious effort to be completely the opposite of what they are accusing me of and I go out of my way all the time to help people and the companies I have worked for. I have found this to be very upsetting and am very concerned that if I am charged, that this will be with me for life.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi there,
    • Fraud is an offence under the Criminal Code (Qld): s 408C.
    • It is a serious offence that has a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
    • Charges may be heard in the Magistrate' Court or the District Court. Given the nature of your allegations, I would guess the Magistrates' Court, if charged at all.
    • To show Fraud, the Prosecution (police) must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, amongst other elements, that you committed the acts dishonestly. This means that the Prosecution must show that (i) what you did was dishonest by the standards of ordinary honest people, and (ii) you realised that what you did was dishonest by these standards. The former is an objective standard test and the latter is a subjective (or mental) test.
    • There are a few defences against fraud applicable here. First, you can argue "Honest and reasonable mistake of belief", which means that you honestly and reasonably, albeit mistakenly, believed some fact which lead to you taking the refund. Second, you can argue "Claim of right", which means that you honestly believed that you had a legal right to the refund due to Myer's refund policy. You do not need to show that this belief was reasonable, but the reasonableness of your belief might be taken into account by the court when considering the honesty of your belief in the legal claim. Third, you can argue "Consent", which means that you did in fact receive consent to take the refund from an employee of Myer, which is therefore, attributed to Myer itself. To show consent, you will need to show that the employee had informed knowledge of the true nature of your situation and circumstances surrounding the act.
    • With defences, the burden is on you to show that the elements of the defence exists.
    In relation to your chances in court, this is a question I would hesitate to answer without knowing more information and would advise you to seek legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer. However, from what you have advised above, it appears that the Prosecution (police) would have difficulty proving dishonesty on your part. Therefore, although Myer may wish to charge you with Fraud, the police may still decide to not charge you given your statements and other lack of evidence.
     
  3. MyerOne

    MyerOne Member

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    Hello Sarah

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my enquiry and for giving me such detail. I will definitely seek counsel in the morning.

    To be honest, I was taken totally off guard and was pressed quite hard and one of the particular Detectives was being very unreasonable and wouldn't let me explain or finish what I was saying, he kept interrupting me and saying that I committed Fraud and that was the crux of it. He didn't particularly like when he was threatening to get statements from the Sales Person and the Store Manager, that I said "please do", I even suggested that he should get the Store Manager to come to the interview room whilst I was there to collaborate what I had told him.

    The information that they had was also not correct and they were stating that I had purchased more than I had. They wouldn't let me look at what I was being accused of buying and returning. I said that if I had been giving sufficient notice of what the meeting was about, that I could have brought credit card statements with me to help prove that they were incorrect. I said that they needed to prove that I purchased those extra items over the couple of days that they proposed and that the goods had been delivered and then returned by myself. I did admit to the initial purchase, as I did purchase those items online and I did return them. It was the first time I had ever purchased anything online from Myer. It was certainly not the first time that I had returned anything to Myer though. The difference was that when I have returned things in the past, I have always had a receipt. I didn't have a receipt in this instance, as I was unable to print one from the online store.

    The other Officer was polite and understanding (almost like good cop/bad cop). This Officer said that Myer was concerned over the loss of the money and perhaps if I was prepared to pay them back, then perhaps I wouldn't have to go to Court. I said that I was more than happy to pay them back. All I ever wanted was the money that I had spent with the initial purchase. At this stage I am still waiting to hear back from the Police as to whether further action will be taken.
     
  4. MyerOne

    MyerOne Member

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    This Officer also said that trying to attain a statement from the Employee to collaborate my story would be very difficult, as it would incriminate them and therefore cost them their job. To that I added, that it was also 6+ months ago. I would be pushed to remember particulars of every return that I did as well, let alone remembering that person and then providing an accurate statement. Wouldn't this be considered "hearsay" by now. I would understand that it would be more accurate if they had taken a statement within that first or second week of the event occurring, but after 6 months.

    I felt like I was being pushed into a corner and coerced into admitting things that I didn't do. It was a horrible and uncomfortable experience. I was open and honest with them the whole time, as I truly don't have anything to hide and if Myer only wants its money back, why go through all that harassment. Why not just ask me to pay back the money.
     

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