Serial swindler jailed for $8.7m luxury car scam
A serial fraudster has been jailed for five-and-a-half years after he ran over a police officer to avoid capture for stealing more than $8.7m in a swindle involving luxury cars and stolen identities.
Ryan O’Hara, also known as Christian Nassar, appeared in the NSW District Court on Friday to be sentenced after he pleaded guilty to 19 fraud charges related to his staggering scam.
The court heard he made 90 successful applications for fraudulent financial loans totalling more than $8.7m between 2015 and 2019.
O’Hara assumed the identities of 147 “unknowing people in the community” to apply for the large motor vehicle loans.
He brazenly employed the identities of 42 Justices of the Peace to fraudulently certify his fabricated documents.
Judge Culver noted O’Hara created hundreds of phone and email accounts, falsified pay slips, and created fake drivers licences in a “considerably detailed modus operandi”.
Loans totalling just shy of $1m were denied by various financial institutions, but the 39-year-old succeeded in swindling more nearly $9m out of banks and car financiers.
The money was used to buy more than 90 luxury cars, including high-end makes such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW and Lexus.
The expensive vehicles were then sold on under the assumed identities, the court was told.
Despite making millions from the fraud, the court heard O’Hara gambled away more than $9.5m at the Star Casino in Sydney.
The 39-year-old also admitted to using his car to run over a police officer who was attempting to apprehend him over the multimillion dollar fraud.
The court heard he was cornered by the cop car and rammed into it multiple times before forcefully driving into the officer.
The man suffered a “significant” and “multifaceted” injury and has undergone four surgeries to reconstruct his shoulder, the court heard.
He told the court “every facet of his life had been impacted” by the assault.
“I struggle to attend work every day and I believe my career in the police will be cut short because of this attack,” he told the court in a victim impact statement.
The court heard O’Hara had been on conditional liberty for escaping police, failing to stop during a police pursuit, and driving charges when he committed the violent vehicular assault and many of the fraud offences.
He has a long criminal history involving multiple crimes of dishonesty, taking cars without permission, and driving offences. He was previously jailed for fraud charges.
Judge Culver noted “the offender appears to have perfected his skill at deception” throughout his criminal record.
“The offender is recidivist in his conduct but I am not of the view that he is beyond hope for rehabilitation,” Judge Culver said.
The judge opined the fraudster’s chequered criminal history revealed the “urgent need for rehabilitation”.
The court heard he had spent most of his life in “profound isolation” following a traumatic and dislocated childhood.
The 39-year-old has been diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety, and gambling disorder.
The court heard O’Hara was a chronic gambler, which motivated his four-year financial fraud.
“He said he never felt comfortable with what he was doing but he felt trapped in that he had to feed his gambling habit,” Judge Culver said.
She acknowledged the offender had “accepted responsibility for his actions” by pleading guilty and said she could see “a glimmer of hope” for his future.
O’Hara has been in custody since his arrest in 2019 and appeared in court via audiovisual link on Friday in his prison greens.
He was expressionless as Judge Jane Culver sentenced him to a total of ten years behind bars with the possibility of parole after five and a half years.
With time served, the 39-year-old will be eligible for release from prison in October next year.
As he left his cell, he turned to give a thumbs up to his lawyer.