A man who scammed dozens of people on social media has avoided being sent to prison after handing over nearly $50,000 to refund his victims.
Hashim Mikdad Hashim, 22, offered iPhones which did not exist in trades on Facebook marketplace and impersonated car salespeople online to sell people vehicles which did not belong to him.
His victims included Auckland dialysis patient Mohammed Dean, who paid Hashim $4300 for a car.
Dean told Open Justice his life “turned upside down” days later when police tapped on the window of the parked car while he was sitting in it and told him the vehicle was stolen.
Hashim scammed more than 30 people over a period of three years, including several months when he was on the run from police. The amounts he took from each person ranged from a few hundred dollars for an iPhone, to $8000 for a car.
His victims were over much of the country – in Auckland, Cambridge, Hastings, Wellington, the Hutt Valley, Motueka, Balclutha and Invercargill.
Hashim appeared in the Napier District Court for sentencing on Friday on multiple charges of obtaining by deception, accessing a computer for dishonest purposes, and converting motor vehicles.
Judge Geoff Rea sentenced him to 10 months of home detention at a Napier address, with conditions including that he not use any electronic device capable of accessing the internet.
Judge Rea warned Hashim, who spent nearly six weeks in jail on remand, not to “play games” with phones or iPads to get around the ban.
“If there is any breach of any of these conditions, you are going straight back into prison for quite some period of time,” the judge said.
Hashim’s counsel, Matt Dixon, said reparation of $49,397 could be paid to victims immediately as it was already in the District Court’s trust account.
He suggested that Hashim’s offending could be dealt with a sentence of less than two years in jail, which would allow home detention to be considered.
He also said that Hashim had become a father for the first time, to a son, in recent weeks.
“It is hoped that additional responsibility will help him to lead a life on the straight and narrow,” Dixon said.
The court was told at an earlier hearing that Hashim began offending at age 18, was caught, but then spent about a year evading police, during which time he carried on scamming people.
Police summaries of facts show that, for the iPhone scams, Hashim advertised phones for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
After would-be buyers transferred money into a bank account, they found that conversations had been removed from the platform and the seller’s profile had been deleted.
In some cases, buyers were provided with courier tracking numbers that proved to be bogus.
For his car scams, Hashim sometimes sought to gain credibility by telling prospective buyers online that he was a salesperson for various real vehicle dealerships.
His charges included seven of unlawfully converting vehicles to his own use – cars he rented then on-sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Dean said that he gave Hashim $4300 and he “seemed like a legitimate guy” when he delivered the car to him, even removing children’s toys from the back of the vehicle when he handed it over.
Dean then dropped Hashim at a bus stop, and learned only when told by police days later that the vehicle wasn’t Hashim’s to sell.
Dean said that he was a kidney patient undergoing dialysis so it had been hard to save up the money to buy the car.
Asked how he felt about Hashim’s sentence, Dean said that it seemed “fair enough” if Hashim was paying the money back.
“He didn’t take anyone’s life, or anything like that.”
Dean said he had not yet received any of the money.
Ric Stevens spent many years working for the former New Zealand Press Association news agency, including as a political reporter at Parliament, before holding senior positions at various daily newspapers. He joined NZME’s Open Justice team in 2022 and is based in Hawke’s Bay. His writing in the crime and justice sphere is informed by four years of front-line experience as a probation officer.