Luxury LifeStyle – Melissa Caddick mystery: Tangled web of missing woman exposed
Melissa Caddick appeared to be a successful businesswoman at the peak of her career but behind-the-scenes her life was very different.
By the time retired Sydney couple Barbara and Ted Grimley were just coming to grips with the internet, their tech-savvy daughter Melissa Caddick was already fleecing clients via complex computer scams.
It was 2015 and the two seniors, who had spent most of their married life in the Georges River area of southern Sydney, were still living in the region.
Ted Grimley was a long-term member of the Lugarno Lions Club.
Barbara was a passionate practitioner of tai chi and had even become a teacher at a local club in Narwee.
They were devoted grandparents to their daughter’s son, then aged about 10, the child of Melissa’s first marriage to an investment fund lawyer.
The Grimleys could be justifiably proud of the achievements of both their children, Melissa and Adam, or so it seemed.
In late 2015, the Grimleys attended an “Internet Basics” course at Hurstville Seniors Computer Club, where retirees were learning Windows 7, the transition to Windows 10 still a leap into the future.
Just a year earlier, daughter Melissa had bought a AU$6.2 million (NZ$6.6m) house in an upcoming street in the swanky Eastern Suburbs.
She had married for a second time a year before that, to a hairdresser she had met in a Bondi Junction salon.
It was a lot to pay for a house but Melissa, after all, appeared to be doing so well.
The Grimleys had always lived in relatively modest homes in Georges River suburbs since rearing their children there.
Melissa had gone to Lugarno Public and then Peakhurst High.
School photos show a plain-faced woolly-haired teenager, who looks a far cry from the sleek woman in designer brands and expensive jewellery she was to become.
Both the Grimleys’ kids had done well, son Adam becoming a consultant in Singapore and Melissa founding Wise Financial Services while in her early 30s.
She would become the managing director of SalesXecution, a self-described “nationally recognised thought leader in the convergence of social media, sales performance and marketing”.
SalesXecution was streets ahead of the humble computer skills of the Grimleys, boasting a decade of “working with emerging internet communication … world-class sales and marketing leaders”.
By 2013, however, SaleXecution was retreating into the background in favour of Melissa Caddick’s new company Maliver, a name believed to be based on that of a family member.
Caddick began investing in the shares of small companies, many newly-listed mining and biology firms.
In 2015 she was listed as one of the top owners of shares in Impact Minerals.
A precious metals exploration company, it failed to grow, losing shareholders almost 70 per cent between 2017 and 2020.
Caddick is believed to have poured money heavily into other risky investments.
But she kept on spending and began luring in people she knew and their friends and family who entrusted her to grow their retirement funds.
The hook for potential investors would be rare and fleeting access to this supposedly canny woman’s financial genius.
She ran it like an exclusive club that everyone should want to join: she would only take on new clients, she told one investor, when others dropped out.
In November 2016, Melissa Caddick bought her parents a ticket out of their beloved Georges River region to the posher confines of Sydney’s East.
It was an AU$2.55m (NZ$2.7m) three-bedroom, high rise apartment on Ocean St, Edgecliff which wasn’t waterfront but had a sandstone terrace with sweeping city views.
Meanwhile, Caddick had developed a taste for luxury goods, expensive travel and haute couture.
She travelled overseas 25 times since 2009, an average of more than twice a year, to the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
The past three Christmases had been spent in the US, skiing in Aspen, with family staying for up to a month at the luxury apartment she rented.
She spent AU$63,000 (NZ$67,586) on a Fijian holiday, taking husband Anthony Koletti, brother Adam and her personal chef.
Between 2017 and August 2020, bank records show her American Express card paid for almost AU$230,000 (NZ$246,758) of Dior products and AU$180,000 (NZ$193,115) from jewellery designer Stefano Canturi.
Before her disappearance, she had spent AU$100,000 (NZ$107,286) at Canturi on a diamond necklace and other items she failed to collect.
She also spent AU$60,000 (NZ$64,371) at Chanel and a further AU$250,000 (NZ$268,215) on shoes and other designer clothes, court documents show.
Private jets and limousines were a favoured mode of travel and court documents showed Caddick also bought expensive paintings, although four artworks worth thousands each were missing from the walls of her Dover Heights mansion when liquidators moved in.
She also spent AU$25,000 (NZ$26,820) on shakes from diet company, Isagenix.
This lavish lifestyle was mostly funded, investigators believe, by up to AU$40m (NZ$43m) that around 60 investors had given to her to grow on their behalf.
But Caddick had no Australian Financial Services licence to trade on their behalf and refused to use accounting software to record and calculate transactions.
Instead, she invented a rosy financial position for Maliver via fake spreadsheets on Microsoft Excel, using barely more sophisticated technology than her parents’ humble computing skills.
And the people she fooled include her unwitting parents Ted and Barbara and brother Adam.
Federal Court documents reveal the Grimleys paid their daughter and sister to invest in shares, but no return had been recorded at the time of Caddick’s disappearance.
Caddick’s other victims include a Sydney couple who had been her friends, Cheryl Kraft Reid and Faye Reid, who lost their retirement savings, and a group of Perth surgeons and their families and friends.
One investor can count herself lucky.
The woman also had a teenage son at the exclusive Sydney private school where Caddick’s son goes, and they both skied in Aspen.
After investing AU$2.5m, (NZ$2.7m) she requested it back after only four months and it was returned with an extra AU$300,000 (NZ$321,842), an 8.3 per cent profit.
The last known footage of Caddick alive is Australian Federal Police bodycam video of the 49-year-old her inside the house at 7am on November 11.
The AFP was conducting a raid on behalf of the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) over the private school mother’s suspected theft of millions of dollars from her clients.
Dressed in black exercise wear and Asics running shoes, Caddick asked rapid-fire questions as officers bagged files, computers, luxury handbags, designer clothes, shoes and jewellery.
The day before the raid, ASIC had taken pre-emptive court action freezing all her bank accounts and issuing orders preventing her from leaving the country.
Around 5am the next day, her son would later tell police, he heard the “click” of the Dover Heights house’s front door.
The mansions which grace Wallangra Rd, Raleigh and Liverpool streets on the way to Raleigh Reserve above the waves which thunder the Dover Heights rocks might be expected to have CCTV cameras.
But NSW Police say there is none of Melissa Caddick walking and have claimed she likely jumped to her death on the morning she vanished.
Eighteen weeks and three days passed before two men walking 450km south, on Bournda Beach near Tathra on the state’s south coast found Caddick’s running shoe.
Police matched DNA from a decomposed severed foot in the shoe to a sample from Caddick’s toothbrush.
Caddick has been described in reports as the “con artist of the century” and a “narcissistic sociopath”.
Wild rumours speculate she could be still alive.
Her grieving parents, son, brother and husband, meanwhile, face not only the prospect of how and when to lay their loved one to rest, but that they may soon also lose their homes.
Luxury LifeStyle – Melissa Caddick mystery: Tangled web of missing woman exposed
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