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Advocate for victims of fraud, financial distress

A former Gisborne woman is returning to New Zealand to expand access to advocacy for victims of financial fraud.

SR Group managing director Susie Barnett founded the company over a decade ago in Australia, where she and her team have been helping people confronted with financial distress and victims of financial impropriety.

“With the success of our business in Australia, we are thrilled to be expanding our team into New Zealand,” Susie said.

Susie Barnett (Hacche) was born and raised in Gisborne and believes there is an opportunity to give back to New Zealanders by advocating for victims of financial fraud and financial distress. 

Her parents were the head teachers at Rere School, where schooling began for Susie. From there, her mother transferred to Te Wharau School and her father Ilminster Intermediate, and Susie continued her education there before heading to Lytton to complete her schooling.

“I started working part-time as a kitchen hand and waitress at the Record Reign Hotel while at high school and certainly learnt some life skills that are still with me,” Susie said.

“My first role out of school was at the Bank of New Zealand.”

However, Susie had the most challenging decade of her life between 2001 to 2011 when she became a victim of financial distress through no fault of her own.

Having signed a personal guarantee for her husband's business, Susie said she had no idea what she had signed and found she was left with colossal debt she knew nothing about.

“I felt so betrayed and compromised. At my lowest point, I wanted to end my life,” shared Susie.

“Then the realisation hit me that I was selfish and why would I want anyone else to go through what I have. I then dedicated the rest of my working life to helping victims of financial distress and fraud.”

Susie said there were real issues that victims of fraud needed to be able to deal with.

“Victims of fraud, especially Ponzi schemes, don't trust anyone. They are usually ordinary people who have given hard-earned savings to a friend or someone they trust.

“When the investment fails, they can't believe a friend would lose their savings knowingly. Then the embarrassment sets in and the fact they have lost so much.

“Once we meet them, they are sceptical of any help. We work through how we can seek compensation, whether it be justice as well as recoup some of their savings.

“The challenge for many is to be patient — while we go through the avenues to seek compensation for them.”

With that knowledge and personal experience, Susie hopes to be able to assist a wide variety of clients and groups, traversing many different industries.

“Expanding our service represents an exciting development for SR Group and myself.

“We have a unique skill base that I believe we can make a positive impact for victims of financial fraud in New Zealand. We are aiming to employ additional team members to accommodate our growing presence in the New Zealand market over the coming year.”

In the past two years, the SR Group lodged claims worth over $400 million on behalf of clients.

VICTIM HERSELF: Susie Barnett (Hacche) draws on her own experience in helping victims of fraud and people suffering financial distress.Picture supplied