Daisy Zielonka pleads guilty to $70,000 online romance scam, asks court to sentence her to home detention


AN online romance scammer has confessed, sold her house to refund the $70,000 she siphoned from an older man and asked a court to consider sentencing her to home detention.

In the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Daisy Zielonka pleaded guilty to 17 counts of aggravated deception — 10 months after she was first charged.

Her counsel, Michael Lutt, said the delay had been caused by his client’s desire to refund a man, 60, whom she met online and convinced to part with $70,000 for her benefit.

“Restitution has been made by her selling off her house, and a cheque has been provided to the police,” he said.

“We understand it’s still yet to clear through to the complainant’s bank account, so we are seeking an adjournment.

“We also ask the court consider, when it comes to sentencing in this matter, the possibility of a home detention sentence.”

Zielonka, 58, formerly of Clearview, repeatedly deceived a Hectorville man, aged more than 60 years, between November 2015 and April 2016.

She stole $2500 or less on 16 occasions, with some of the alleged thefts occurring within 24 hours of each other, and up to $30,000 in a separate transaction.

Zielonka has been on bail since her arrest, under conditions that ban her from opening bank accounts, transferring money overseas and contacting people “who purport to be doctors”.

The court has not heard how or why she stole the money but, upon her arrest, police said romance scams “play on a victim’s emotional triggers to get money, gifts or personal details”.

In December, Zielonka told the court she would “not dispute two-thirds” of the charges filed against her.

On Wednesday, Magistrate Maria Panagiotidis said she could only seek a home detention report once a person had been convicted, noting Zielonka had yet to enter pleas.

Mr Lutt apologised and, as his client stood silently in the dock, pleaded guilty to all counts on her behalf.

Ms Panagiotidis varied Zielonka’s bail to reflect her new, undisclosed residential address and remanded her to face sentencing submissions next month.



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