How a single WhatsApp message from a socialite interior designer for the rich and famous to a junior worker led to the unraveling of a fake payments scam fleecing her wealthy customers
- Socialite interior designer asked junior worker to photoshop payment receipts
- Adriana Benhamou Weiss took on DEC Services as one of her clients in 2016
- Company paid her $325,000 upfront before Weiss allegedly kept the money
A socialite interior designer charged with falsifying financial records allegedly sent Whatsapp messages to her junior worker telling her to photoshop payment receipts.
Adriana Benhamou Weiss decorated the mansions of Australian multi-millionaires and designed hotels and apartment developments in Paris, Moscow, the French Riviera as well as luxury properties in Israel and the Middle East.
Her life of luxury came crashing down when she was charged with directing an employee to falsify books relating to payments to six different design services in four currencies equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Weiss had hired a junior worker in 2015 when she sent her Whatsapp messages in 2016 allegedly asking her to use Photoshop to make payment confirmations.
Adriana Benhamou Weiss decorated the mansions of Australian multi-millionaires, designed hotels and apartment developments in Paris, Moscow, and the French Riviera and luxury properties in Israel and the Middle East
Weiss had hired a junior worker in 2015 when she sent her Whatsapp messages in 2016 allegedly asking her to use Photoshop to make payment confirmations (stock image)
Weiss had taken on DEC Services as a client and been hired to design and build their offices at Bond Street in Sydney.
Weiss allegedly promised she could provide a cheaper service than her competitors because she owned a furniture manufacturer and distribution company in Dubai.
She allegedly asked for the payments to be made urgently when DEC Services paid $325,000 upfront – before Weiss allegedly kept the money for herself.
Weiss had allegedly asked her junior worker to make payment confirmations in Photoshop before meeting up with DEC Services again, The Australian reported.
The alleged confirmation payments had made it seem like the money given by DEC Services to Weiss had been sent to suppliers and contractors.
Some of the payment confirmations allegedly contained incorrect addresses and company names and spelling mistakes such as ‘transfer’ and ‘buisness’.
Weiss entered guilty pleas to three charges to be dealt with under the Corporations Act and to a further three charges to be dealt with under the Crimes Act in June.
Ms Weiss’s Benhamou designs had been enlisted to decorate the trophy oceanfront home Deauville (above) of multi-millionaire Neville Crichton and his wife Nadi but furniture never arrived
Weiss’s life of luxury came crashing down when she was charged with directing an employee to falsify books relating to payments to six different design services in four currencies equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars
The charges brought against Weiss follow the liquidation of her and her mother’s company Benhamou Designs, wound up by Ferrier Hodgson and owing $8.11m.
Ms Weiss’s mother has since rebranded herself as Helene in Paris and traveled to Europe where she has released YouTube videos singing French romance classics such as ‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’.
The falsifications alleged by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) all took place in late 2016, prior to the liquidation of Benhamou Designs.
The liquidation report says Weiss blamed the failure of her company to ‘poor business management’ and ‘significant disputes with customers and suppliers’.
One dispute was with multi-millionaire yachtsman and luxury car importer Neville Crichton over supply of furniture for the $45m waterfront Point Piper mansion he bought in late 2017.
Court documents seen by Daily Mail Australia allege Ms Weiss ‘engaged in conduct that resulted in the falsification of’ receipts, international transfers and a purchase order in US dollars, Euro, Australian dollars and United Arab Emirates dirham
Mr Crichton sought to buy the furniture after the then 71-year-old, nicknamed ‘Croaky’, married 38-year-old Nadi Hasandedic, a former Christian Dior boutique manager earlier in the same year.
The furniture order never arrived at trophy home Deauville, which is next door to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s house, and Ms Weiss reportedly blamed ‘supplier issues’.