Religious conman in custody

A conman, who apparently stole identities from gravestones, has tricked church and welfare groups in Brisbane into believing he was a Marist brother.

The Brisbane Sunday Mail reported yesterday that the man, 60, was due to play a leading role in a Catholic church service in Brisbane yesterday.

But federal police arrested him in Canberra after he mistakenly left baggage at the airport's domestic arrivals area.

They found documents in his bag with up to 10 different names.

He was charged with making a false statement in a statutory declaration and remanded in custody.

Sources said he is likely to face further charges related to Centrelink fraud.

The Brisbane wing of an international carer organisation hired the NSW man as a counsellor in August. They were shocked to discover he was a fake.

He claimed to be Anthony Dunn, a Marist brother, who recently worked with the poor in Pakistan.

"He was a very smooth operator," said one of his victims. "He was a very distinguished character. He certainly looked the part."

"Brother" Dunn took part in fund-raising activities in Brisbane, counselled young people with disabilities and was an active member of his church at Auchenflower.

"He also told us he had been parish priest at a country church (in the ACT)."

The Catholic Church confirmed an Anthony Dunn was not a member of the clergy.

A spokesman for Catholic Communications in Brisbane said Dunn volunteered as a eucharistic minister under the direction of the Toowong parish priest.

"On occasions he helped distribute the communion hosts during Mass," he said.

The spokesman said it was likely Dunn had passed himself off as a Marist brother to parishioners, but it was unclear whether any background checks were done.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn said Queensland detectives had made inquiries this week trying to track down details of the conman.

He is scheduled to appear in Canberra Magistrates Court next month.

Clergyman 'a fraud' (Sunday Mail 15/1/06)

16 Jan 2006