How a single WhatsApp message from a socialite interior designer for the rich and famous to a menial worker led to the unraveling of a bogus payment scam scamming his wealthy clients
- Socialite interior designer asked junior worker to photoshop payment receipts
- Adriana Benhamou Weiss hired DEC Services as one of her clients in 2016
- The company paid him $325,000 upfront before Weiss kept the money
A socialite interior designer accused of falsifying financial records allegedly sent Whatsapp messages to her young employee telling her to photoshop the payment receipts.
Adriana Benhamou Weiss has decorated the mansions of Australian multi-millionaires and designed hotels and apartments in Paris, Moscow, the French Riviera as well as luxury properties in Israel and the Middle East.
Her luxury life fell apart when she was accused of ordering an employee to falsify books relating to payments to six different design services in four currencies amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Weiss had hired a young worker in 2015 when she sent him Whatsapp messages in 2016 allegedly asking him to use Photoshop to make payment confirmations.
Adriana Benhamou Weiss has decorated the mansions of Australian multi-millionaires, designed hotels and apartments in Paris, Moscow and the French Riviera and luxury properties in Israel and the Middle East
Weiss hired a young worker in 2015 when she sent him Whatsapp messages in 2016 allegedly asking him to use Photoshop to make payment confirmations (stock image)
Weiss had taken on DEC Services as a client and had been hired to design and build their offices on Bond Street in Sydney.
Weiss reportedly promised that she could provide a cheaper service than her competitors because she owned a furniture manufacturer and a distribution company in Dubai.
She reportedly asked for the payments to be made urgently when DEC Services paid $325,000 up front — before Weiss kept the money for herself.
Weiss allegedly asked his assistant to do payment confirmations in Photoshop before meeting with DEC Services again, The Australian reported.
The purported confirmation payments had given the impression that 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 misspellings such as “transfer” and “company”.
Weiss pleaded guilty to three counts to be dealt with under the Companies Act and three other counts to be dealt with under the Crimes Act in June.
Ms Weiss’ Benhamou designs had been enlisted to decorate the Deauville seaside trophy home (above) of multi-millionaire Neville Crichton and his wife Nadi, but the furniture never arrived
Weiss’ luxury life fell apart when she was accused of ordering an employee to falsify books relating to payments to six different design services in four currencies amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The charges against Weiss follow the liquidation of her and her mother Benhamou Designs’ company, liquidated by Ferrier Hodgson and owed $8.11 million.
Ms Weiss’ mother has since renamed herself Hélène in Paris and traveled to Europe where she posted 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, before Benhamou Designs was liquidated.
The liquidation report says Weiss blamed the failure of his business on “poor business management” and “significant disputes with customers and suppliers.”
A dispute has arisen with multi-millionaire yachtsman and luxury car importer Neville Crichton over the supply of furniture for the $45million Point Piper waterfront mansion he bought in late 2017.
Court documents seen by Daily Mail Australia allege Ms Weiss ‘engaged in conduct which resulted in the falsification of ‘receipts, international transfers and a purchase order in US dollars, Euros, Australian dollars and in United Arab Emirates dirham.
Mr Crichton sought to buy the furniture after the 71-year-old, nicknamed ‘Croaky’, married Nadi Hasandedic, 38, a former manager of the Christian Dior boutique earlier in the same year.
The furniture order never arrived at the Deauville trophy home, which is next to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s house, and Ms Weiss is said to have blamed ‘supplier problems’.