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Victorian police officer jailed for ‘brazen and callous’ scam

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A Victorian police officer who used her job take over strangers’ properties to build a fraudulent investment empire has been jailed for more than four years.

Rosa Rossi changed locks on six vacant properties without the owners’ knowledge between April 2016 and June 2017 in an attempt to claim squatter’s rights.

She used Victoria Police’s internal database to look up vacant properties and at one point went to a suburban Melbourne council office in uniform to demand an owner’s number.

Rossi also rented out some of the properties, using false documents and her position as a sergeant to cover her tracks.

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Three of the homes were at Willaura in Victoria’s west and the rest in the Melbourne suburbs of Malvern, Chadstone and Brooklyn.

When a concerned neighbour called police after spotting Rossi at one Willaura home, she said she was an officer, had keys and was buying the property.

In Victoria’s County Court on Wednesday, Rossi was jailed for a maximum of four years and six months.

The 58-year-old must serve two years and four months before becoming eligible for release on parole.

“Your conduct was brazen and callous to the rights of the true owners, “Judge Martine Marich said.

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Rossi earlier quit the police force and pleaded guilty to nine charges, including obtaining property by deception, perjury and unauthorised access to police information.

The court was previously told she had been trying to acquire the properties under a legal process known as adverse possession.

This allows someone to obtain ownership of a property if they can prove they’ve possessed it exclusively for at least 15 years.

One of Rossi’s victims, a disability pensioner, described feeling angry, stupid and used.

“It didn’t seem right to me that a police officer would be up to anything fraudulent,” the man told the court in a statement.

“I was gutted. I felt like a fool.

“I still don’t know why she did this.”

-AAP

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