Teenager’s horrifying beach discovery
The discovery of Melissa Caddick's remains - more than three months after she vanished from her Sydney mansion - sent shockwaves around the nation.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said today it was one of the most high-profile missing persons' cases he had worked on in his 30 years on the force as dozens of investigators worked to find the missing conwoman.
Ms Caddick, 49, was accused of conning her friends and family out of more than $20 million through her fraudulent investment business Maliver Pty Ltd.
Ms Caddick disappeared from her Dover Heights home in the early hours of November 12, hours after investigators from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) raided her house and told her she would need to hand in her passports the next morning.
But the massive investigation into where Ms Caddick might be came to an end after three teenage boys came across a shoe at a beach on NSW's south coast on Sunday afternoon. One of the campers went to dispose of the Asics jogger in a bin, only to make the horrifying discovery that there were bones inside, and alerted authorities, 9News reported.
WHAT SHE DID
Leaked documents, obtained by news.com.au earlier this month, detail exactly how investors were duped into giving their hard-earned money to Ms Caddick.
Each of the investors happily gave their money following a "strong personal recommendation from people they trusted".
All of her investors - who helped Ms Caddick eventually amass a $20 million fortune - were long standing friends of Ms Caddick or her family members.
In almost all cases of those who chose to invest, their relationship with Ms Caddick or a family member had spanned for more than 20 years.
And in a further tragic twist, often the person who made the recommendation to invest had already been unwittingly sucked in.
Over the years, no red flags with Ms Caddick or her business were ever raised. Any investor who wanted to withdraw their funds had done so with ease, and on repeated occasions.
HOW IT UNRAVELLED
ASIC investigators launched an investigation in September 2020 after another financial advisor reported Ms Caddick was using her financial services licence without permission.
Investigators began to sift through the documents given to investors, finding nothing was legitimate.
Bruce Gleeson, the court-appointed liquidator, earlier this week said he had not found a single genuine document given to investors.
"There are hundreds of false bank statements, share contracts and share trading statements," he said.
Mr Gleeson also admitted none of the CommSec accounts she gave to her clients "have been found to be true".
It's believed Ms Caddick was copying and pasting letterheads from CommSec to create the fraudulent documents and maintain investors' trust.
'LIVING LARGE' ON INVESTOR FUNDS
Before Ms Caddick landed in the crosshairs of ASIC, the 49-year-old businesswoman and her husband Anthony Koletti were living the high life - all on the money invested into Ms Caddick's allegedly fraudulent business.
There is no suggestion Mr Koletti, her teenage son or anyone else in her family had any knowledge or involvement in Ms Caddick's alleged fraud.
A bank statement from Ms Caddick's American Express card revealed the couple were forking out around $600,000 a year to fund their high-roller lifestyle.
Documents from ASIC revealed Ms Caddick had dropped a whopping $230,000 at Christian Dior, $120,000 on skiing trips to Aspen and $108,000 at Flight Centre between December 2017 and August 2020.
Dominic Calabria, a partner at Bridges Lawyers, who is representing a number of victims that trusted Ms Caddick with their savings, told The Sydney Morning Herald it was clear the Dover Heights couple had been "living large".
The night before she vanished from her $7 million home, Ms Caddick was filmed by ASIC investigators.
Panicking, Ms Caddick was seen on the footage questioning the officers from the Australian Federal Police and the ASIC investigators.
Ms Caddick was told she needed to hand her passport in and was informed her assets would be frozen.
In a sworn statement tendered at the Federal Court, investigator Isabella Allen alleged Ms Caddick heavily questioned her during the raid on November 11.
Ms Caddick questioned how she was to abide by a court order if her assets were frozen and asked when she would have to appear in court.
She questioned where she needed to drop off her passports and was she still able to use her credit cards.
When investigators told her she needed to give them a list of her assets and liabilities, Ms Caddick bit back, "How am I supposed to do that when you have taken my computers?"
"I am unable to answer that question and it may be best that you speak to a lawyer. Do you have a lawyer?" the investigator asked.
"No," Ms Caddick replied. "I have no one to call."
Hours later, at 5.30am on November 12, she slipped out of her family's home and was never seen again.
A TRAGIC END
The disappearance of Ms Caddick baffled police and her friends and family for months but that mystery was solved this week when campers discovered a shoe, with a decomposed foot inside, on a remote beach.
Three teenage boys walking along Bournda Beach, near Tathra on NSW's south coast, just after 12pm on Sunday made the grisly discovery.
The shoe matched the Asics jogger Ms Caddick had been last seen in.
DNA testing on the remains this week confirmed the foot belonged to Ms Caddick.
"(The foot) had been in the water for some time. Scientists were able to extract DNA from the foot and match it to a sample of DNA that we had already obtained from a toothbrush belonging to Melissa from her relatives," Assistant Commissioner Willing told reporters.
"Police have always kept an open mind in relation to what the circumstances were for her disappearance, including the fact that Melissa may have taken her own life," he said.
ASIC today offered its condolences to the friends and family of Ms Caddick and said it would push on with trying to uncover their lost funds.
"ASIC's priority is to seek the return of funds to investors in the most efficient way possible", an ASIC spokesperson said in a statement.
"ASIC will continue to work with the receivers and provisional liquidators to prepare for the Federal Court hearing listed on 7 and 8 April. ASIC considers the hearing should go ahead as a priority to seek return of funds to investors."
Originally published as Teenager's horrifying beach discovery