A ‘successful’ financial adviser has been jailed after defrauding clients of $3.35million to fund his gambling addiction.
Gavin Fineff was married with two children and earning around $160,000 a year with Sydney-based Sentinel Management when his gambling got out of control.
He borrowed $90,000 from his mother to buy a share of Sentinel, but started gambling, losing and then gambling more to try to recoup his losses.
Fineff, 44, defrauded sums ranging from $60,000 to $745,000 from a dozen victims who trusted him to take care of and increase their savings.
He was sentenced by the NSW District Court to at least five years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to 12 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
‘Prosperous’ financial adviser Gavin Fineff (pictured) has been jailed for defrauding 12 clients, some of whom were elderly, out of $3.35million to fund his gambling addiction
“I am satisfied that his decision to gamble the substantial sum given to him by his mother and his subsequent ‘hunting’ of those funds was the beginning of his slide into serious criminal conduct,” Judge Christopher O’ said. Brien during Fineff’s sentencing.
“It saw the unraveling of what would likely have been a promising and prosperous future.”
Between October 2016 and March 2020, Fineff stole millions from clients who Judge O’Brien said trusted him to act in their best interests.
Before being arrested and charged, Fineff admitted in a letter to Sentinel’s owner and managing director that he received money from family, friends and clients and lost it to the game.
He was fired from his job and Sentinel Wealth brought in forensic accountants to determine the extent of his fraud.
He had offered his clients to give him a loan so he could buy shares of Sentinel, Surf Lakes Holdings Ltd or QBiotics Group Ltd.
But rather than investing the money he got and investing it, he bet it, 7 News reported.
He told his boss, “I’m sorry. I borrowed money from people to buy QBiotics stock, but sickness caught me and I gambled their money.
“So I borrowed more to get it back and gained some, then lost it again.”
“Some people bought QBiotics stock, they all wanted to help me buy stock too, so they lent me money, but I lost everything and now I’m in deep debt,” he said. -he declares.
Fineff quit gambling when he saw he had lost $3.1 million on a single betting app.
“How am I going to solve this problem,” he told the court during his trial. “There was no way to justify it…I quit because I realized I couldn’t fix it.”
Judge O’Brien said Fineff’s crimes were not committed on impulse, but were “well planned, deliberate and sophisticated” and that in some cases he had become a close friend of his victims and their families over the years.
“His victims let him into their lives and he seriously abused their generosity, hospitality and trust,” he said.
Gavin Fineff stole sums ranging from $60,000 to $745,000 from a dozen victims. Pictured is an image of a man in handcuffs
Fineff quit gambling when he saw he had lost $3.1 million on a single betting app. Pictured is an image of Australian $100 banknotes
Joyce Williams, 85, who was robbed of $325,000, received an email from Fineff in March 2020 apologizing and admitting he had used her money to gamble.
Ms Williams told police but the theft went away with limited funds and she was given an eviction notice because she couldn’t pay her rent.
NSW Police and their local MP helped her stay in the house, but she died of breast cancer later that year.
Her daughter Sharon wrote in her victim impact statement that her mother worked hard to be able to live independently and then Fineff took her savings.
The judge said other victim impact statements spoke of the stress, anxiety, embarrassment, betrayal and loss of security experienced by the victims.
Most of the victims got none of their money back.
The police investigation revealed that Fineff had accounts with several betting companies and had lost more than $4.4 million in total.
“The age of these victims…means that it is virtually impossible to envision them ever recovering the loss they have suffered,” Judge O’Brien said.
Since his arrest in May 2021, Fineff has helped recover approximately $1.3 million which will be paid to victims.
Judge O’Brien said that while this was a far cry from the amount of money he stole, Fineff did not simply “walk away from his victims without any effort to repay them”.
Fineff spent a period in a mental hospital to be treated for his addiction and also attended Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
The court heard he had become a ‘crusader’ for gambling reform and worked with MPs seeking to hold betting companies liable if a gambler uses stolen money to bet.
He got a 30% discount on his sentence for pleading guilty and helping the police in their investigation.
He was sentenced to nine years behind bars, with a period without parole of five years and four months.
Origin: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk