A failed Queensland gambler and alleged associate of ex-Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale used a private eye and forged passports to help steal Chinese expatriates' identities, a court has heard.
The Australian-Chinese accountant then used his victims' homes as collateral to secure millions of dollars in loans so he could repay money he'd lost at casinos and continue his lavish lifestyle.
Hui Tian, 34, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years' jail after he pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court to more than 20 fraud and dishonesty offences between April 2015 and June 2017.
The father of two's crime spree started when he stole about $1 million from his Chinese father-in-law Hui Huang Wu's ANZ bank account and gambled it away at Brisbane's Treasury Casino in two days.
He then stole his wealthy Chinese neighbour Xin Zhong Han's identity so he could use his Brisbane home to secure a million-dollar loan from Prime Capital Securities.
This involved forging his passport and drivers licence, and duping him into letting a property valuer into his Brisbane home under the guise of an investment opportunity.
The fraud was only discovered because Mr Han received a letter from the Queensland titles office after Prime placed a million-dollar mortgage over his home because Tian had used it to secure a loan.
Tian's next victims were two more Chinese nationals, Ding Ding Lu and a Jian Jun Li, who Tian impersonated to steal their identities and ultimately sell one of the men's ritzy Gold Coast homes.
To pull off the complex fraud Tian used a private investigator to follow Mr Lu's mother in China and learn her maiden name.
He then used the information to call the Australian Passport Office to gain access to Mr Lu's identity.
With it, he obtained more documents in Mr Lu's name from the Brisbane City Council for a company registered under his victim's name, which enabled him to secure further loans.
Later, Tian sold Mr Li's home on Knightsbridge Parade in the Sovereign Islands to the company for about $5 million.
It netted him about $2.5 million before a rate notice sent to Mr Li showing the property he continued to live in was owned by the company led to the ruse being uncovered.
It was about this time that Tian reportedly passed Pisasale $50,000 cash at a Melbourne hotel to carry to Queensland to settle one his fraud complaints.
But Pisasale was caught with the wad of cash at Melbourne Airport on May 13, 2017 sparking the corruption watchdog raid that led to his downfall.
Pisasale has not been accused of wrongdoing over the money.
In sentencing, Judge Orazio Rinaudo noted that much of the $7,899,191.92 Tian fraudulently obtained would never be paid back.
"Some of (your victims) who reside in Australia infrequently would not have been aware, would not have had the ability to be aware of what was going on," he said.
"And this of course was a factor (you) preyed on."
Tian will be eligible for parole after serving two years and 10 months.
Australian Associated Press