As previously reported, a 46-year-old man from NSW who swindled millions from would-be investors with his fraudulent music label appeared at a sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court in Sydney yesterday after pleading guilty last month to 16 charges of fraud.
As the Daily Telegraph reports, French-born Dimitri de Angelis of Turramurra told the court that he’d duped 14 investors into injecting large sums of money into his phoney record company Emporium Music, telling them it was a “foolproof scheme” that could turn over a $100,000 investment into $6 million or more.
De Angelis was able to fool his investors with photoshopped images of himself rubbing shoulders with rock stars, politicians and cultural power brokers, while hiring expensive cars, luxury holiday homes, and a lavish office in Sydney’s Chifley Square to uphold the illusion that he was an extremely well-connected, influential business entrepreneur.
The conman even proudly lined his office halls and walls with the doctored images, photoshopping himself into photos with the global leaders, musicians, and the rich and famous.
He photoshopped himself into the company of Molly Meldrum, Pope John Paul II and even replaced Nelson Mandela’s face with his own in a photo with former US president Bill Clinton. Victims told the court that de Angelis also boasted he would go to Kirribilli House to cook for John Howard, and had been a close friend of Kevin Rudd’s for 17 years – all which proved to be an utter fabrication.
Not all of De Angelis’ acquaintances were fake however, once the imaginary Emporium Music boss managed to dupe millions from investors, he was able to cosy up to the likes of Guy Sebastian and David Campbell for real.
The Sydney fraudster managed to swindle a total of $8.5 million from fooled investors over four years.
Sydney’s deputy mayor Marcelle Hoff and her husband were among those who fell for De Angelis’ ruse, along with Anne Keating, sister of former PM Paul Keating, who lost $100,000, Melbourne barrister Graeme Uren QC who lost $20,000, and Macquarie Graduate School of Management academic Peter Steane.
De Angelis was eventually found out and arrested in March, 2010, and was released on a bail of $1 million – put up by de Angelis partner Aaron Hung, now living in Taiwan – and eventually went bankrupt in 2011.
Crown Prosecutor Michael O’Brien said de Angelis spent the money he stole on renting luxury cars – which he passed off as his own – as well as living the high life in five-star hotels and extravagant music launch parties.
Soruban Siva, Mr de Angelis’ barrister, told the court his client suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder as a justification for his crimes and had genuinely intended to conceive a successful recording company until his plans came unstuck, but “he was hopelessly out of his depth,” he said.
Unfortunately, it’s simply not a situation that de Angelis can use his keen editing skills to photoshop his way out of, with his final sentence handed down on November 26.
The Sydney conman’s conviction is one of a series of music-related scams this year, including an online ticket scalper in the UK who admitted to a court that she had sold fake tickets to over 20 victims to the tune of £7,274 (approx. $AU 12,000); and a London man was sentenced to 22 months in jail for using a fake ticketing website to scam over $6 million from imaginary passes to high-profiled concerts and major sporting events.
Then there was Los Angelean guitarist Marino De Silva who was sentenced to 8 years in jail for conning charity functions with compilations that reportedly claimed rare material from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones that the guitarist simply faked, or didn’t deliver on.