Australian welfare influencer arrested for fraud after allegedly fooling investors

(biancamaycheah / Instagram)

An Australian wellness influencer has been arrested and charged with fraud for allegedly duping investors in her online business over A $ 1million (around £ 536,858).

Bianca Cheah, model and founder of online health care brand Sporteluxe, was arrested by Australian border forces at Sydney Airport at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.

Before the arrest, she was in Los Angeles. According to Sun Herald, Cheah reportedly waited for authorities at the airport before being handed over to NSW Police.

Cheah, who had more than 1.3 million Instagram followers before the arrest – the number has since fallen to 155,000 – was then charged with two counts of posting false or misleading material to gain an advantage.

The 40-year-old influencer and her husband Simon Chalmers, from whom she is now estranged, have been under investigation for fraud by NSW Police since November 2019. If convicted, she risks up to two years in prison.

The investigation was launched by investors who alleged that the income figures attributed to her work as a model and influencer were inflated and therefore fraudulent, reported the Daily mail.

The couple were found to have broken Australian consumer law due to “deceptive conduct” and were ordered to return the funds, but no refunds were made and Cheah declared bankruptcy in January 2021.

Cheah lived in Sydney before moving to the United States in 2016 after marrying Chalmers, who ran Kings Cross nightclub in Beach Haus, Sydney, where Leonardo DiCaprio launched his 37e birthday party in 2011.

Prior to her arrest, Cheah posted a series of photographs on her Instagram account of her and her baby boy, Oliver. It was the first post she had posted to the account since October.

Explaining why she hadn’t posted on Instagram, Cheah claimed she chose to focus on spending more time with her son.

“I know this is a limited time in my life and I choose to embrace it,” she wrote. “I choose to find joy in my motherhood journey. I know my little Oliver needs me now in a way he’ll never have again.

“See things through her beautiful lens and think about things differently for a change,” she continued. “You see, at the moment my Oliver is very small.

“Right now he needs me. Right now, I am his safe place, his comfort and his home. This is why, first and foremost, I define myself by my motherhood. Being there is my greatest gift I can give Oliver.

Comments left by Instagram users after his arrest indicated that Cheah’s comments had “aged badly.”

One person accused her of having disappeared from social media because she was “running away from the authorities”, while another added: “Embarrassing”.

Cheah was released on bail after her arrest and will appear in local court in Manly on February 22.

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