AFSA Notice: QLD (Bowlen) —AFSA investigation leads to prison sentence for bankrupt

On 1 July 2019, Michelle Mary Bowlen was sentenced in the Southport Magistrates Court, after pleading guilty to incurring a debt by fraud, while bankrupt and making a false declaration in her statement of affairs.

Ms Bowlen became bankrupt on 17 February 2017 after filing a debtors’ petition and statement of affairs. In her statement of affairs, Ms Bowlen failed to declare an active bank account.

Between 13 November 2017 and 5 January 2018, Ms Bowlen obtained money from a person she first met in November 2017. A total of $39,646.15 was obtained on 15 separate occasions. The money was obtained under the guise of being a loan.

In obtaining the money, Ms Bowlen intentionally misrepresented her financial circumstances, fabricating a story that she was the heiress to the estate of her late grandfather and was to be bequeathed a significant amount of money and property.

Ms Bowlen did not repay any money to the victim.

Ms Bowlen was sentenced to:

  • 6 months imprisonment for failing to declare a bank account in her statement of affairs;
  • 12 months for incurring a debt by fraud whilst bankrupt; and
  • To be served cumulatively (a total of 18 months) and to serve 9 months before being released upon entering a recognisance in the amount of $10,000 to be of good behaviour for 5 years.

A reparation order was made in the sum of $39,646.15 to the victim.

In imposing the sentence, Magistrate Bentley noted the serious nature of the offending and the need to protect creditors and the general public as well the fact Ms Bowlen had taken advantage of the generosity, kindness and trust of the victim.

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions on behalf of the Australian Financial Security Authority.