Christine Margaret O'Shea leaves court in Townsville.
Christine Margaret O'Shea leaves court in Townsville.

Grandma scams family of $84k to spend on makeover

A GRANDMOTHER has been jailed after scamming a North Queensland family out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Christine Margaret O'Shea, 69, convinced a Burdekin family to give her more than $84,000 in 20 separate transactions which she told them she would invest in "risky" foreign currency, including the Iraqi dinar.

O'Shea faced Townsville District Court on Friday where she was sentenced to 2½ years' imprisonment.

The court heard she pocketed almost half of the money that she promised to invest.

"(The complainants) had no idea some of the money provided to you was being diverted to your own purposes," Judge Greg Lynham said.

"(It was spent) on what might be described as cosmetic purposes."

O'Shea was known for her work with Amway and that was how she befriended the victims.

Crown prosecutor William Slack attempted to argue O'Shea should have been sentenced on the basis she defrauded $84,000, however, Judge Lynham determined her criminality was limited to the money she kept for herself which was just over $40,000.

The court heard the initial transaction O'Shea took from the family was $1200, but between 2014 and 2017 continued to convince them to invest.

"You encouraged complainants to invest by texting them with deals or notifying them personally of deals," Judge Lynham said.

Defence barrister Rowan Pack said the invested money was practically all lost but the complainants had been aware they were entering a risky situation.

Mr Pack said O'Shea was a grandmother who had lived in the Home Hill area since the early 1970s. He said prior to her offending she was well regarded and had participated in charitable fundraising.

Mr Pack said his client would pay $30,000 restitution and had instructed the $6800 worth of foreign currency police had seized from her to be given to the victims.

Another $4000 would be paid back through SPER.

Taking into account her lack of criminal history and willingness to pay restitution, Judge Lynham ordered O'Shea's sentence be suspended after she served four months imprisonment.