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The Anita Faisandier story, from riches to rags
Anita Faisandier had played a rather sophisticated version of monopoly; using millions of dollars of other people’s money to accumulate over $700,000 in outstanding debts from her elaborate overseas trips staying in swanky hotels frequented by the rich and famous and shopping in elite stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
Anita Faisandier wasn’t surprised when she was summoned to the manager’s office of the flash Beverly Hills Hotel where she was staying. She had heard one of the employees’ refer to her by her real name instead of the false identity that she had booked her room under. The gig was up and she was exhausted from running. It had all finally caught up with her and as she was being greeted by armed police, she knew it was… ‘Game Over’.

Born into a wealthy family, Anita was first educated in her homeland Argentina, then was sent to an English boarding school to complete her education. During her teenage years her parents divorced and she was sent to live with her grandparents. She spent some time travelling around Europe with the couple before starting at a business collage in London.

Moving to Australia, Anita married her first husband and they had a baby girl. The marriage did not last and after they split she moved to New Zealand and met her second husband. They lived in Lower Hutt and had a son together.

During her time in New Zealand Faisandier operated many businesses, none of which were said to have made any profit. According to her own claims, Anita was also involved in a company called US Foods that imported guava juice from Hawaii.

Her lack of funds became apparent in 1994 when the credit card companies started to demand payment for a $140,216.12 debt. By Jan 1995 she owed $141,950.54 to another credit card company after spending over $200,000 mostly on travel in the six months prior.

At around the same time, another debt was incurred when a business associate from America took her to court. When Faisandier had started a business known as US Food Company the associate had loaned her $US700, 000 and taken a 50% share in the company. When she was unable to buy him out of his share, he took her to court and won a civil action against her of $2.8million.

Soon after the case, Faisandier borrowed money from a friend to cover another credit card debt. After writing eight separate cheques to him, all of which were either bounced or stopped, she finally paid him back after borrowing money from another friend and her husband’s business.

In 1996 Anita Faisandier started another business known as Travel Incorporated Ltd, a travel agency in name only. Due to a court order she was unable to open the accounts for the business under her own name and convinced lawyers to set up the business and the accounts. Anita’s lawyer for more then 10 years set up the company accounts in his own name with himself as the director. He would often sign many cheques in one go for Anita. Soon after (in 1997) Anita Faisandier became Amex’s No 1 biggest spender in New Zealand.

Another lawyer became involved and also became a director of the company, both were under the illusion that the company was running as a travel agency. They only became suspicious when the overdrafts on the company accounts leapt to near a million dollars within a couple of days. Alerting the banks, the directors had the accounts stopped and went to confront Anita. She became agitated and accused them of trying to ruin her business. It was soon discovered that she had been shuffling around a million dollars between the two accounts.

After an interview with the serious fraud office, Anita fled the country, leaving her two children behind. She was on the run trying to conceal her identity but soon felt comfortable enough to confide in some people about her real identity. She finally surfaced in Los Angeles

During her stay in a Beverly Hills hotel, she was summoned to the manager’s office where she was offered the chance to return to Argentina or Britain. As the armed police stood by she decided to return to New Zealand to face the music.

By the time she returned, the 45 year old failed business woman had managed to con what is said to be a whooping $833,000. As she awaited trail she was the first person in New Zealand to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to prevent her escape from home detention.

After a ten-day trail, Anita Faisandier was found guilty of 20 charges of fraud and was sentenced to 3.5 year in prison on 02 June 2000. She appealed and was granted bail.

The appeal was heard on 13 October 2000 and Faisandier was forced to surrender herself to police when her appeal against conviction was lost. Her sentence however was reduced from 3.5 years to 3 years.

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The story of Anita Faisandier, at one time New Zealand's biggest American Express spender who swindled almost a million dollars and ended up as the first person in New Zealand to wear a home detention electronic ankle bracelet

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