A cult member posed as a financial adviser to some of the world’s wealthiest men to gain access to $28 million worth of luxury homes and flash cars.
Charming con artist Martin Seeley, 41, was a pathological liar who led a fantasy life for more than a decade to escape the rigid moral guidelines of a secretive religious sect.
The County Court has heard Seeley claimed to work for media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer and Ted Turner to test drive luxury cars and buy beachfront properties.
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A smooth talker without a dollar to his name, Seeley drove out of Melbourne car yards with BMWs, Mercedes and Volvos, saying he intended to buy a fleet of vehicles for one business empire or another.
The cars were not returned for days and sometimes weeks.
He charmed real estate agents into negotiating the purchase of opulent homes for his billionaire associates, writing million-dollar cheques he knew would bounce. In a single day Seeley tried to buy three properties worth $8.5 million.
The court heard he had grown up with his family in the Exclusive Brethren sect, a Christian church whose members were forbidden to watch TV, vote or go to university.
Psychologist Pamela Matthews told the court Seeley learned to be a proficient liar and manipulator while in the cult, and was incapable of remorse or empathy.
He was yesterday jailed for a minimum of 2 1/4 years after pleading guilty to 50 charges, including obtaining property by deception and theft.
Prosecutor Rob Tate said Seeley began his escapades in 1993 and was finally nabbed in 2003, only to continue offending while on bail.
The court heard the father of four was bankrupt and homeless in 2002, living with his children in motel rooms and running up $30,000 in unpaid accommodation bills.
In sentencing him to a maximum of five years’ jail, Judge Roland Williams said Seeley’s behaviour was “uniquely disgraceful”.