It’s the magazine cover that shows how Sydney’s most notorious conwoman Melissa Caddick fooled everyone: her family, her friends and her industry.
Daily Mail Australia can exclusively reveal how Caddick graced the cover of a top financial planning magazine almost two decades before scandalising her industry.
‘A wise choice,’ the October 2003 front cover of Independent Financial Adviser Magazine said. ‘Australia’s best planning practice’.
It was PR puff for Wise Financial Services, the legitimate and successful planning business that Caddick was a managing director of.
But with hindsight it illustrates how Caddick built a reputation of career success – which she then used to sucker her friends, family and acquaintances.
‘We trusted her because she was Melissa,’ said one victim of Caddick’s later alleged fraud operation, Maliver Pty Ltd.
Melissa Caddick was on the front cover of an industry magazine in October 2003 under a previous publisher. Back then, she worked with a legitimate financial planning firm
Caddick on the job with staff at Wise Financial Services, which she held a minority stake in, during the early 2000s
Caddick was already a picture of success in the early 2000s. Then, she became the minority shareholder in Wise Financial, a stake she held for three years.
She featured in the firm’s website header, dressed in a powder blue power suit, and dispensed pearls of wisdom about high finance in The Australian newspaper.
Her advice included: ‘I would never leave 100 per cent of my assets in just one asset class, like property or shares, nor would I ever leave money under the bed’.
Standards at Wise were stringent and public records show she held a legitimate Australian Financial Services Licence through 2004. (She would later be accused of using someone else’s for several years).
‘You could not scratch your nose without Compliance being all over it,’ said a former colleague at Wise. And Caddick was an expert in it. ‘She knows what to do and what not to do.’
The former colleague said that in later years Caddick would have known that she was breaching the ‘cardinal sins’ of financial planning.
After Wise, Caddick went on to work for a separate Sydney financial planning entity. She had a baby boy about that time with her now ex-husband.
Caddick (pictured drinking champagne on the rooftop of a Sydney school with her husband, Anthony Koletti) was believed by family and friends
Corporate watchdog ASIC has alleged in court documents that Caddick’s financial misappropriation may have began as early as May 2009.
But her main Maliver frauds – which often involved faked CommSec documents regularly sent to clients – are alleged to have kicked off in earnest in 2013.
Authorities claim Caddick used her company to rake in more than $20million which she then splurged on designer clothing, expensive jewellery and flash cars.
Provisional liquidators this week said that Caddick had been ‘meticulous’ in her work, mocking up her clients fake financial reports using Microsoft Excel.
She intentionally resisted suggestions she use specific accounting software so she could hoodwink auditors, accountants and other advisers.
The mystery of Caddick’s disappearance may now be drawing to a close.
Her decomposing foot was found by campers on Sunday. It was inside an Asics Gel Nimbus 22 sneaker when it washed up at Bournda Beach, south-east of Bega on the NSW south coast.
‘(The foot) had been in the water for some time,’ Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said on Friday.
‘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 Mick Willing and Detective Inspector Gretchen Atkins announce the discovery of a foot believed to belong to Melissa Caddick on Friday. Before the disturbing find, Caddick was widely believed to be alive
Caddick vanished from her family’s Dover Heights home on November 11. Her foot was found in an Asics sneaker on Bournda Beach, south east of Bega last Sunday
A bouquet of pink roses was left outside the front gate of the Caddick family home in Dover Heights on Friday
Detectives suspect Caddick died by suicide shortly after Asic and the Federal Police raided her home on November 11 – although they are not ruling out foul play.
Her family are devastated and floral tributes mounted outside her cliffside home on Friday.
ASIC’s investigation into her alleged fraud continues.
Few who once knew Caddick, and entrusted her with their savings, thought that she was capable of the deceit she is alleged to have led.
But why wouldn’t they trust her, when she was draped in designer jewellery, hosted dinner parties at her $6.1million Dover Heights home, spoke of her specialised expertise and was a finance industry covergirl?