Pisasale-linked scammer Hui Tan jailed for 10 years

A MAN who allegedly gave former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale $50,000 cash has been jailed for 10 years for almost $8 million worth of fraud and other offences.

Hui Tian, a "pathological gambler", orchestrated an elaborate series of Catch Me If You Can-style scams to swindle relatives, neighbours and complete strangers.

Tian, 34, pleaded guilty to more than 20 offences including aggravated forgery, personation, uttering and several counts of fraud, committed in 2015 and 2016.

He will be eligible for parole in March next year, after having served two years and 10 months in custody, before and after his sentence.

Hui Tian
Hui Tian

"It was an elaborate scheme," Brisbane District Court judge Ray Rinaudo said.

"He went to a lot of trouble to carry off the frauds."

Tian, who spent much of the money in Queensland and Victorian casinos or paying off debts, had also committed other offences after his arrest.

Judge Rinaudo said while $1.1 million of the money had been returned, the remaining $780,000 was unlikely to be recovered.

The judge took into account the impact of the lost money on Tian's victims.

Judge Rinaudo said some lived overseas and infrequently visited Australia and would not have been aware of what was going on.

In 2017, Paul Pisasale was caught with the wad of $50,000 in cash at Melbourne Airport, the day after Tian allegedly handed over the money in a Melbourne hotel.

It is understood the cash was for a legal settlement relating to the fraud matters for which Tian pleaded guilty to on Wednesday and was sentenced today.

Pisasale was allegedly going to take the money to Queensland.

There is no allegation Pisasale had any role in the fraud-related offences for which Tian was sentenced.

Pisasale was later investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission but was not charged with any offences arising out of the $50,000.

The court previously heard Tian, a QUT accounting graduate, had engaged in a range of "high risk" schemes in order to fund a gambling addiction in the years before becoming involved with Pisasale.

His gambling habit began after he met a friend who helped him win $800,000 on the card game baccarat, after he borrowed $200,000 from his mother, the court heard.

Paul Pisasale
Paul Pisasale

Tian's first fraud involved siphoning almost $1 million from his father-in-law's bank account by falsifying power of attorney documents in 2015, the court was today told.

The 34-year-old then had cheques made out to the Treasury Casino.

He later told police he believed the cash was his "pocket money".

After being arrested and granted bail, Tian engaged in several more Catch Me If You Can-style scams during 2016 -- one where he impersonated his neighbour and obtained a loan about $1 million using the man's house as capital.

To do so, Tian forged a number of documents, including a passport and a Medicare card and organised a valuation on the home without the owner knowing.

The fraud was uncovered in November 2016 when his neighbour received a letter telling him the property would be sold because a debt had not been paid.

The 2002 film Catch Me If You Can depicts a charismatic American conman played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who falsified documents and went on the run - not dissimilar to Tian, who used a fake passport and fled after he was charged with fraud.

Earlier in 2016, Tian identified the owner of a glitzy Gold Coast property and found there was no mortgage over the property.

After hiring a private eye to find out details of the person, he had a false passport made up in China in the man's name.

Later he sold the property to another person he also impersonated - effectively transferring the property to himself by posing as both the seller and the buyer.

The property was transferred for $5 million, $3 million less than market value, the court today heard.

The offending was uncovered when Tian organised for almost $2 million from the sale to be withdrawn in his own name.

He was later arrested in Sydney in a hotel in possession of over $200,000 in cash and $50,000 in casino chips.

Defence barrister David Brustman QC, said Tian suffered from depression and had struggled with his grads at university and school.

He said his client had been the subject of an armed hold-up when he owned a fruit barn in Brisbane, which he later sold.

Judge Rinaudo took into account Tian's remorse and his assistance with authorities in providing details about the frauds.

Chinese Australian Hui Tian, 34, has pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court to more than 20 fraud and dishonesty offences between April 2015 and June 2017 that netted him about $7.9 million.

He was sentenced on Friday to 10 years' jail with parole eligibility after serving two years and 10 months, after fraudulently obtaining $7,899,191.92.