A serial fraudster, who dressed like James Bond and drove an Aston Martin, "mercilessly" swindled more than a dozen people of $7.66 million, a NSW judge says.
"Conman might not necessarily be a curable condition," Acting Judge Colin Charteris said in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Thursday.
Hamish Earle McLaren, 49, has pleaded guilty to 17 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The charges carry a maximum jail term of 10 and 15 years respectively.
McLaren was arrested in July 2017 after his multiple faux investment schemes - including in currency, gold and shares in a "profitable" Papua New Guinea gold mine - came unstuck.
He fleeced 15 victims over six years including Australian fashion designer Lisa Ho.
Ms Ho gave McLaren $850,000 in superannuation after he promised a low-risk investment with a high return, the agreed facts state.
She took him to court after being duped and McLaren was declared bankrupt in 2016 but continued his scam.
Crown prosecutor Carl Young told the sentence hearing on Thursday there were 11 victims in relation to a "Ponzi or pyramid scheme" headed by McLaren'.
"There's then a 12th victim to which the offender represented himself as a barrister, and a 13th victim to who he sought a loan promising he would pay it back with interest but did not," he said.
McLaren "was motivated by greed, not need" and his "systematic dishonesty" wasn't related to any mental illness, Mr Young said.
Wearing a light grey suit with a blue tie and pocket square, McLaren took notes in the dock and didn't turn his eyes to the many victims - including Ms Ho - who filled the packed courtroom.
Acting Judge Charteris said McLaren had destroyed their faith in other human beings.
"No one could imagine what it's like to have that happen," he said, noting some had lost upwards of $1 million.
"They've been given a life sentence in relation to their losses. Some of these assets are built up over decades."
He said McLaren was the only person who knew what happened to the money.
The fraudster, in a letter to the judge, said he was truly sorry and jail was a constant reminder of his failings.
"I will never have the opportunity to turn back the clock. I wish I could do more to right the wrongs I am so ashamed of," McLaren wrote.
"The labels of conman and alike are deserved."
When giving character evidence, McLaren's brother-in-law, Christopher Rourke, described him as increasingly "reckless" as a supposed futures trader and prone to exaggeration.
"He would watch a James Bond movie and then dress like James Bond," Mr Rourke said, adding that this occurred up until the last film starring Daniel Craig.
"Same suit, same hair."
He said McLaren also owned an Aston Martin and, at another stage, he believed he was leasing two Ferraris.
"He was always good for someone's birthday. He showered his girlfriends (with gifts)," Mr Rourke said.
But he didn't know how McLaren's generosity was funded.
Barrister Gabriel Wendler said his client had his "eye on the future" and urged the judge to be satisfied he was unlikely to re-offend.
He conceded McLaren had no financial services qualifications - having worked as a personal trainer and ski instructor - but also had no prior criminal record.
The judge asked: "Are you still a first offender when you commit the 18th (offence)?"
McLaren is due to be sentenced on June 20.
Australian Associated Press