Silver-tongued property spruiker Cameron Deal, 46, has been sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to scamming almost $100,000 from Geelong footballer Stewart Crameri in a hoax real estate venture.
The former real estate agent and buyer's advocate blamed alcohol and drug abuse for his descent into crime, claiming he had been threatened by an armed drug dealer over a $114,000 cocaine debt.
Mr Deal wept as the custodial sentence was handed down in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on December 21, but his lawyer said an appeal would be lodged.
The court was told Mr Deal enticed Mr Crameri to invest in a St Kilda property in May 2016 and instructed the then Western Bulldogs footballer to deposit $96,250 into a trust account to which he was a signatory.
He provided Mr Crameri with falsified documents for the sale of the Crimea Street property - which was not on the market - before swiping the deposit.
Once a sought-after public speaker at investment forums and property seminars, Mr Deal also pleaded guilty to dozens of unauthorised transactions on a credit card he stole from a buyer's advocacy firm that employed him briefly in 2016.
He was also disqualified from driving for 34 months after, having pleaded guilty after failing a breathalyser test in Albert Park while suspended for previous drink driving offences.
Mr Deal narrowly avoided a prison sentence in January, when he pleaded guilty in the County Court to stealing $230,000 from a South Melbourne real estate business owned by his former wife.
Now living in crisis accommodation in Frankston, Mr Deal's extraordinary fall from grace may not be complete, with several other fraud allegations referred to police.
In March, he flouted an order by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to return two paintings to art dealer Paul Auckett that he never paid for.
The collectable artworks were given on consignment to Mr Deal in August 2015, but he is understood to have used one painting by renowned artist Howard Arkley as collateral for a $5000 loan from a Caulfield pawnbroker.
Another painting by contemporary artist Ricky Swallow is believed to have been pawned for $2000 at a South Yarra pawnbroking business.
Over the past 18 months, Mr Deal has been evicted from two apartments in Black Rock and Elwood over failure to pay rent, while a Mercedes SL 500 was also repossessed.
Mr Deal also failed to pay for a $12,909 Trek road bike from O'Mara Cycles in Black Rock in 2016.
Owner Jae O'Mara was left "fuming" when he allowed Mr Deal to take the high-performance bike for a test ride, after it was built to his exact specifications.
"He had the clothes and looked a million bucks. The first time he came in, he was driving a Porsche, the next time he rocked up in a Mercedes. We've never had the rug pulled from under us like this, but he's just so smooth," Mr O'Mara said.
His is not the only business to regret providing goods to Mr Deal on credit.
In August 2015, Mr Deal splashed out $8726 on a home entertainment system, washing machine and household items at The Good Guys in Brighton. In May 2016, he received a letter of final demand, but is understood to have never settled the debt.
Another former business associate said he lost about $300,000 in a failed real estate venture with Mr Deal, which involved fraudulent sale contracts for three inner-city properties.
The money was only repaid after the dispute reached the "steps of court", but almost $90,000 in legal fees was never recouped.
"You'll find there's a lot of people around town who've had a similar experience with this bloke," the former associate said.