Scammer Hamish McLaren’s Story Wikipedia: His Wife, Children, Victims, Jail Sentence, What He Did, Where He Is Now, Biography

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Who is Hamish McLaren and what did he do? The Australian conman cheated various women out of millions of dollars. More about him and his victims explored.

Something that always jumps out at us about crimes involving a swindler is, how the con itself seems far more complicated and exhausting than just getting a job. Sure, working full-time and existing in a world that is seemingly falling apart isn’t easy, but pulling off a global deception involving multiple relationships and identities has to be harder.

For Hamish McLaren, Australia’s biggest fraudster, the jig was definitely up after years of taking financial and emotional advantage of various women and families in different countries. His prolific crimes were laid out in the Who the Hell Is Hamish? podcast, but as always, the focus is on the individuals he hurt. Who is Hamish McLaren and who are his victims? Here’s what we know.

Image Source: MailOnline

Who is Hamish McLaren?

Hamish McLaren (real name: Hamish Watson) is a serial fraudster dubbed “Australian worst conman” who stole over $70 million from vulnerable victims.

The heartless scammer was born on 29 March 1970, in Sydney and is currently 53 years old.

He is famous for being a confidence trickster known for his crimes (in the US, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, and Australia) which mostly targetted women. This surfie dude could morph into whatever you needed him to be.

He notoriously had a tall list of nicknames including Hamish Earle McLaren, Hamish Phillip McLaren, Hamish Watson, Hamish Philip Watson, Hamish Maxwell, and Max Tavita.

Between 2011-2017, while living in Bondi, he stole at least $7.66 million from 15 known victims in Australia (including one he married, and fashion designer Lisa Ho). 

Should Hamish been successful in his scams, he would have been a multi-millionaire with a net worth of over $70 million. However, he was bankrupted in 2016 through severe investigation and upon his arrest.

Over three decades and four continents, he stole millions of dollars from the vulnerable and the naïve, using romance, lies and multiple identities to tear lives apart.

Hamish McLaren
Hamish McLaren

Who are Hamish McLaren’s victims?

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, McLaren “fleeced 15 victims … of $7.66 million by directing them into fake investment schemes that promised a high return.” From 2011 until he was caught in 2017, McLaren moved from city to city and victim to victim, with little care as to the destruction he was causing. Among his victims, three were the most outspoken during McLaren’s trial.

Bec Rosen

Bec Rosen and Hamish McLaren
Bec Rosen and Hamish McLaren

In October 2010, McLaren married Bec Rosen, a single mother of three boys who moved to “Blueys Beach, just over three hours’ north of Sydney,” in 2008 after her marriage ended, per 7 News Australia. Their courtship was quick, but Rosen fell in love with the charming man who took time to write love letters and go surfing with her sons.

The first time Rosen got an inkling something was wrong was when she spotted him having coffee with her son’s 16 year-old girlfriend whom he also drove around in his fancy, expensive car. One day when Rosen found a purple G-string in her dryer, that was the last straw. Rosen “didn’t know it at the time, but she was paying for the car and plenty more of Hamish’s luxuries.” Eventually her son’s girlfriend admitted to having an affair with McLaren, who was in his late forties.

Karen Lowe

Karen Lowe
Karen Lowe

His next victim, Karen Lowe, was a “rich, cash-strapped single mother,” reported 7 News Australia. She had a gorgeous home worth over a million dollars but was cash poor and couldn’t fix it. After meeting McLaren who told her he could help, she was more than happy to borrow a million from the bank so he could use part of it to work on the house, while investing the rest.

When Lowe’s wealthy friend Henry Hannon visited Sydney, he then invited the couple to the Royal Ascot where McLaren pretended to buy a $100,000 horse. Soon, McLaren was asking Lowe and Hannon to join him on a business trip to New York because he was an investor for Goldman Sachs. However, things didn’t feel right for Hannon, who asked two Goldman Sachs employees to look into McLaren. They confirmed he didn’t work there and Lowe found out she owed over a million dollars to the bank.

Tracy Hall

After creating yet another fake identify for himself, McLaren preyed upon marketing executive and single mom Tracy Hall. Using the name Max Tavita, they found each other on a dating app. McLaren wove a web of complicated lies including telling Hall his parents were dead, he was at the Twin Towers on 9/11, and of course he was a market trader. That’s how Hall ended up “investing” and losing nearly $320,000 of her life savings.

Lisa Ho

The most prominent victim of McLaren’s is Australian fashion designer Lisa Ho. Unfortunately, Ho was introduced to McLaren by her ex-husband. She ended up giving him $850,000 out of her own retirement fund but recouped $500,000 of it after the legal proceedings. “I’m glad he’s behind bars and starting to feel the punishment he dumped on so many trusting people,” she told the Daily Mail.

Confession of a conman: the photo that undid charlatan Hamish McLaren. Image Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Confession of a conman: the photo that undid charlatan Hamish McLaren. Image Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

What happened to Hamish McLaren?

McLaren who defrauded over 15 victims was investigated and sued numerous times previously.

In July 2017, his crimes came to an end was finally arrested in Australia. 

He pleaded guilty in June 2019 “to 17 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime”. 

Hamish McLaren
Image Source: MailOnline

Where is Hamish McLaren now?

Hamish McLaren is current serving jail terms.

The crimes of Hamish McLaren were the most “reprehensible” of any financial crimes that can be committed, a judge said as he handed the fraudster who stole more than $7 million.

In June 2019, NSW District Court Acting Judge Colin Charteris sentenced McLaren to 16 years behind bars with a non-parole period of 12 years for his “outrageous” criminal conduct.

He would have been eligible for parole in July 2029.

His crimes are documented in a podcast called Who the Hell Is Hamish?. Hosted by Greg Bearup, from The Australian newspaper, it delves into the exploits of serial conman Hamish McLaren. For more on this story, listen to the Who the Hell Is Hamish? podcast on all available platforms.