70yo admits to $2m fraud scheme

SHE boasted about expensive cars with built-in safes, of downsizing her "lake big house" because she was sick of paying gardeners when no one was using her tennis court, and of making money for her multimillionaire "big boys".

Patricia Lillian McKittrick, 70, also told would-be investors she had relatives who held powerful positions in law enforcement and a daughter who worked at the Portuguese resort where English toddler Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007.

But possibly her greatest tale was of the substantial and quick returns she said she could give investors who agreed to part with their cash.

Only problem was McKittrick paid those quick returns using the investor's own deposit, in turn attracting more people keen to split with their cash after they saw others enjoying the spoils.

McKittrick admitted in Newcastle Local Court yesterday to deceptively obtaining more than $2 million from Hunter investors in what has been called a Ponzi scheme.

Facts tendered to court said McKittrick told clients she could attract large and quick returns investing in Westpac and Macquarie bank shares.

Instead, she kept the money and used some of it to pay her investors the high-yielding returns she had promised.

That attracted other investors and allowed her to keep the scam going.

McKittrick pleaded guilty yesterday to four counts of obtaining money by deception involving $1.559 million between April 2007 and February 2008. She has also asked the court to take into account 10 more charges involving $554,000.

They involved a range of investors from the Coalfields to Lake Macquarie.

Figures in court papers showed that about half of the invested money had been paid back to clients as dodgy profits, although they all would have thought their original investment was still safely tucked away.

But some investors, including one who had lost $336,245 from a $395,000 investment and another who lost $312,900 from a $461,300 investment, had been stung badly.

McKittrick, whom the court has previously heard suffers from significant health problems, is nearing the end of a 3 1/2-year sentence for similar frauds in the Coffs Harbour area.

McKittrick claimed to have had a brain haemorrhage, a stroke, heart problems, a blood clot, high blood pressure and an operation on her shoulder.

Sentencing proceedings will begin in Newcastle District Court on June 15.

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