Scammer says he stole $120k to ‘fit in with gay scene’

Dwayne Antojado, an Australian man, is seen in a dark club-like setting. He was later sentenced to time served as part of a scam to fund lifestyle on 'gay scene'

An Australian man has been sentenced over an insurance scam that made him over $120,000 to fund his lifestyle on the “gay scene”. 

Victoria’s Country Court sentenced Dwayne Antojado to time served after he pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception, NCA NewsWire reported. The court deferred his sentence last year in order to show he had been rehabilitated.

The now 26-year-old already served 609 days, and judge Kellie Blair described Antojado’s turnaround in that time as “exceptional”.

Blair added that Antojado had “demonstrated ongoing rehabilitative achievements”, and the man was “free to continue your life as a law-abiding citizen who has a significant contribution to make to this community”.

Antojado pleaded guilty to using 109 fake identities to open accounts with insurance company Medibank between October 2018 and December 2019, Star Observer reported.

He then used these accounts to lodge multiple fake claims to exploit a loophole in an online claim system that didn’t require receipts. 

Police discovered the fraud after arresting Antojado on unrelated charges in 2019, and Antojado had managed to swindle $120,901 in total. 

The court heard that Antojado used the money to buy drugs, flashy clothes and to visit clubs in Melbourne. 

Antojado’s lawyer Matt Cookson said his client experienced “one crushing defeat after another” after graduating from Adelaide’s Norwood Morialta High School, where he was a “high-achieving” student.

He argued that Antojado felt pressure to fit in with the South Australian gay scene which he described as “heavily based on going out, clubbing, being fit, healthy and well-dressed”.

Antojado said this was “everything he wasn’t”. 

Cookson added that Antojado’s “offending” was how he got the money to “keep up with the lifestyle he had adopted”, and it was “through that money that he acquired the lifestyle”.

In her ruling, judge Blair noted that Antojado’s “prior offending” was motivated by him seeking “acceptance from the gay community in Adelaide” and “adopting a lifestyle you could not afford”. But now, she believed he had turned his life around given what he had done since being incarcerated. 

The court heard that Antojado enrolled in university, was employed and regularly appeared on panels to share his experience in custody. He also co-authored an academic article, which is due to be published. 

“You have demonstrated a commitment and ability to make a difference to other individuals who are and have been incarcerated and who are struggling with a myriad of issues that prevent them achieving sustained and positive change,” Blair said.

The court also ordered Antojado to pay back the money that he stole from Medibank through his scams.