Missing conwoman Melissa Caddick had a decades-long history of fraud and dishonesty, somehow evading consequences for her crimes every time.
With charm, designer handbags and a silver tongue she was able to fool friends, family, and even her mother and rob them blind.
Her first known swindle was petty embezzlement in 1998, and worked up to $23 million in vanished investments – which finally did her in.
On November 11, 2020, investigators from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission raided her $6.8million home in Dover Heights after she was found to be operating a financial services business without a valid licence.
It was the last night she was seen alive.
Caddick disappeared for three months and was presumed to be on the run, until a rotting foot washed up on a beach on the NSW south coast, prompting police to declare her dead.
Melissa Caddick with her first husband Andrew Caddick – whom she tried to prevent seeing their son and lied about cheating on her, when she had cheated on him, with Anthony Koletti
Caddick vanished the day after corporate watchdog ASIC raided her luxury $6.1million home in Dover Heights, Sydney, on November 11 last year. Pictured: the ASIC raid
Her crime was a Ponzi scheme involving 60 friends and family, totaling $30 million – only $7 million of which was ever repayed. The rest vanished.
But her history as a serial thief and fraudster goes back decades, beginning in 1998, before her either of her marriages.
Then 27, she forged her boss’s signature on four cheques only six months into a job at a small Sydney investment firm.
She was caught before too long, but allowed to resign and leave immediately without the police being called, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Caddick, then known as Melissa Grimley, was 27 years old and didn’t even have to repay the $2,000 she’d stolen.
Creating an impression of success became an essential part of the conwoman’s modus operandi.
Her immaculate presentation was designed to ensure people saw her as professional and overlooked her habitual dishonesty.
Out of school she did a business and secretarial course at St Patrick’s College Australia in Sydney, where she learned the importance of talking herself up.
Caddick in one of the last known photos of her – when she turned up to a friend’s 50th birthday wearing a $2500 Dolce & Gabbana dress. The friend claimed she had scammed everyone at the party
Caddick’s decomposed foot in a rare Asics shoe was found 400km away from her home on Bournda Beach on February 21
In her first job at NRMA, Grimley would become angry if anyone referred to her as a secretary
‘Her manicured presentation seemed suited to a job she aspired to, rather than the job she had,’ a former boss said.
Looking back, old friends recounted her basic dishonesty.
‘We’d be at dinner and she would say “that’s a beautiful butter knife” and she’d steal it,’ one old friend said.
She admitted an attractive pair of salt and pepper shakers at her home were stolen from a restaurant in Paddington.
The childhood friend remembered that in her early 20s Grimley suffered a breakdown after being the victim of a conman who stole from her family and eventually her – maxing out her credit cards and doing a runner.
She refused to believe the man was a con artist and ran away with him, only to end up broke and emotionally devastated.
Melissa Caddick learned early about the importance of presenting the appearance of success – and it apepars to have been a part of her modus operandi, allowing her to convince unwitting victims to ‘invest’ with her – only for her to keep most of the money. She is pictured with husband Anthony Koletti – who is not suspected of any wrongdoing
It was claimed Anthony Koletti and Melissa Caddick began an affair in France while she was still married to Andrew Caddick
The south coast beach where Caddick’s foot was found is more than 400km from where she was last seen at her lavish Dover Heights home (pictured) in Sydney
After being sacked from the investment firm for forging checks, Grimley married an English builder’s labourer – Andrew Caddick – and had a baby with him.
She bought a share of successful financial planning business, Wise Financial, and appeared to have a bright future in her 30s.
But Caddick tearfully quit, disillusioned that she was not allowed to sidestep ethics rules that barred planners from directly recommending property and shares for clients.
She spun a series of lies about receiving huge payouts from the company – one for a an $86 million business deal she made up and another for a sexual harassment case that never happened.
Her marriage fell apart in the UK after she was caught cheating in Paris – with her current husband, Anthony Koletti – while she had claimed to be on a business course in Switzerland.
Again, she lied about what happened, claiming Andrew abused her, cheated on her, and lied about his job.
A lack of credible witnesses and an absence of CCTV footage means the glamorous conwoman’s disappearance may never be solved
Missing conwoman Melissa Caddick’s many victims included her mother and father Barb and Ted Grimley. She is believed to have stolen $23million from 60 clients – many of whom were family and close friends
When he moved to Sydney to be closer to his son, who was with his mother, Caddick unsuccessfully tried to block him from having access.
A confused Andrew Caddick heard stories from his son that he flew first class and on private jets and wondered where the money came from.
Caddick’s combination of dishonesty and using impressions to get money out of people came together in the many scams she ran in her own company Maliver – collecting $30 million over eight years.
The Ponzi scheme began soon after she arrived back in Australia from the UK in 2012.
It was common for her to tell interested clients who approached her that she was too busy to help them – then later tell them they were in luck, somehow finding time for their business.
The brochure she handed out for Maliver lied about her credentials as she was not a certified financial planner and did not have a masters of business.
The business operated using someone else’s Australian financial services Llcence – a life insurance broker who she insured herself with.
Melissa Caddick during a business meeting while she ran her fraudulent investment company, Maliver
Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick (pictured with her husband Anthony Koletti) allegedly defrauded more than $25million from scores of investors. He is not accused of any wrongdoing
Once she had their money, she created a fake CommSec share trading account for each client.
Where she needed to, she forged not only clients’ signatures but also that of the nearest available justice of the peace – her father-in-law Rodo Koletti.
She emailed clients a fake monthly report claiming stunning returns of up to 30 per cent, which convinced them to invest more with her, and to get her more word-of-mouth business.
Caddick’s pool of victims began with family and friends – many of whom lost their life savings – and expand from there.
She scammed her parents Barb and Ted Grimley, brother Adam, her uncles, aunts and cousins.
She stole from childhood friends and their families, her personal trainer, her employees and surgeons in Perth, introduced by a friend of her brother.
Liquidators say the mother-of-one ‘meticulously and systematically’ deceived those who entrusted millions of investment dollars to her over seven years, then used the money to fund her lavish lifestyle
The cliffs at Dover Heights, near her luxury home, where ASIC raided her in November 2020
One woman, a childhood friend whose 50th birthday Caddick attended in a $2,500 designer Dolce & Gabbana dress a month before her disappearance, claimed the fraudster stole $10 million from her family.
‘Looking back, she was ripping off everyone at my party. Every single member of my family plus another couple I had invited,’ the woman said.
When ASIC investigators raided Caddick in November, they confiscated dozens of expensive designer label dresses, handbags, and shoes.
Her scams began to unravel when a client did due diligence on documents provided to them and the woman whose Australian financial services licence she used notified ASIC – which is believed to have been November 2019.
ASIC recorded the complaint but took no action at that time.
Another complaint in June 2020 contained more detail and ASIC applied to the Federal Court to freeze her assets and seize her passport.
ASIC raided her home five months later, and Caddick promptly disappeared to permanently evade justice.