Steven Prestage pictured at the Downing Centre Local Court on July 9 to hear his sentence. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift
Steven Prestage pictured at the Downing Centre Local Court on July 9 to hear his sentence. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift

IT fraudster stole $79k from David Jones

A man has been jailed for defrauding department store giant David Jones to the tune of almost $80,000 while employed there.

Steven Prestage, 46, funnelled false "contractor" payments into his mother-in-law's bank account under a fake business name, before transferring the funds into his own bank accounts, all in the name of "covering his tracks", the court heard.

But Prestage, from Verrierdale, just wants to start a new, low-profile life as a farmer in Queensland, the Downing Centre Local Court heard last week.

Court documents reveal Prestage was hired as an IT project manager at David Jones in 2017.

He was tasked to find a company to carry out master scheduling work and so told his employer that after five interviews he had found the perfect candidate, his friend by the name of Michael Turner, who had a business called company Petite Software Systems Pty Ltd.

However, Prestage deceived both Mr Turner and David Jones and instead fed inflated contractor payments, up to $19,000 at a time, into a slightly altered company name, Petite Solutions Pty Ltd.

Steven Prestage pictured at the Downing Centre Courts on July 9 for sentence. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift
Steven Prestage pictured at the Downing Centre Courts on July 9 for sentence. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift

Petite Solutions was in fact registered in the name of his mother-in-law, from Slovakia, and he continued the payments between June and August 2017.

Court documents also reveal Prestage forged a signature to sign off on a David Jones Project Purchase Order to obtain $41,800 from the company.

Prestage then transferred the money to his company Inctive Global Serve Pty Ltd before he moved the money into four separate accounts under his name.

Court documents reveal Mr Turner never had any knowledge of the supposed contract nor any invoices or the use of his ABN.

It was also revealed Prestage had faked a reference to secure him the contractor job at David Jones.

A reference, supposedly from a "Chief Information Officer" at a large childcare organisation, claimed his only fault was that he "worked too hard".

Steven Prestage gets a temperature check before entering Downing Centre Courts on July 9. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift
Steven Prestage gets a temperature check before entering Downing Centre Courts on July 9. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift

The prosecutor argued the high level of planning and sophistication, the extended period of time over which the offence was committed, the amount of money stolen and the breach of trust, were all factors which "aggravated" the crime.

Magistrate Erin Kennedy said she had no evidence of his remorse but understood that he was enduring financial hardship at the time of the offending.

Prestage pleaded not guilty to dishonestly obtain financial advantage or cause disadvantage by deception for the false reference which landed him the job but he was found guilty by a magistrate.

He was sentenced last week to an 18 month Conditional Corrections Order and fined $2200.

He also pleaded not guilty to dishonestly obtain property by deception for embezzling the $79,200 sum and using false documents to obtain property or $41,800 belonging to David Jones Pty Ltd, but was found guilty by a magistrate.

Steven Prestage, 46, defrauded his former employer David Jones Pty Ltd of almost $80,000. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift
Steven Prestage, 46, defrauded his former employer David Jones Pty Ltd of almost $80,000. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Swift

He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison with a non-parole period of ten months.

Prestage looked wide-eyed to his lawyer as he was led away in handcuffs, before his lawyer announced quickly to the court they would appeal the 18-month prison sentence he had just been handed.

He was released on bail to appeal the severity of this sentence and must report to Coolum Police Station daily.


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