Double whammy: Loss of pensioner’s wallet leads to $20,000 in unwarranted fines

In a world where we often hear about identity theft and its consequences, it's easy to think it's something that happens to other people, somewhere else.

However, for one Victorian pensioner, the nightmare became all too real when a lost wallet led to a cascade of unwarranted fines totalling over $20,000.

This story serves as a cautionary tale for all of us, especially those in our community who may not be as familiar with the darker side of modern technology and the importance of safeguarding personal information.

Kelvin Bellette, a part-time pizza delivery driver and disability pensioner from the rural western Victorian town of Colac, experienced a series of unfortunate events that began with a simple mishap: losing his wallet on a Mornington Peninsula bus in 2021.

After reporting the loss to the police, he thought the matter would be resolved once his wallet was returned.

However, the real trouble started when he discovered his driver's license was missing from the wallet.

Kelvin Bellette faced over $20,000 in fines after being wrongly accused of numerous traffic violations following the loss of his wallet. Credits: Shutterstock

Since then, Mr Bellette has been bombarded with a staggering 60 traffic offences in the Mornington Peninsula area, a place over 200 kilometres away from his new home in Colac.

He insisted only four were legitimately his. The offences ranged from speeding to driving without a seatbelt and even driving an unregistered car through a toll zone.

The situation escalated to the point where Mr Bellette, in an attempt to manage the overwhelming fines, started a payment plan.

It was a decision made under duress, as he struggled to cope with the financial and emotional stress of being wrongfully accused.

It wasn't until early 2023 that Mr Bellette sought the help of Colac lawyer Tony Pyrtz, who took a closer look at the evidence.

Upon requesting photos related to the offences, it became clear that someone other than Mr Bellette was behind the wheel.

‘He’s been in a spiral of dealing with fines that aren’t his,’ Mr Pyrtz said, highlighting the distress and confusion his client has been facing.

‘Nothing’s ever been done about it until now, so they’ve gotten away with it.’

Fines Victoria, the agency responsible for managing fines in the state, provided a list of individuals who had all nominated Mr Bellette as the driver during these offences.

This revelation was a breakthrough, as Mr Pyrtz stated, ‘Now we’ve investigated a bit more, we’ve found out most of them aren’t his at all and it would appear he has been falsely nominated as the driver.’

The investigation uncovered that a trades business in the Mornington Peninsula district—where Mr Pyrtz claimed that his client’s name had been ‘shopped around’—along with seven other individuals, had accused Mr Bellette of various offences with different vehicles.

‘Kelvin has never owned or been in any of these vehicles, and he doesn’t know any of the people who nominated him as the responsible driver,’ Mr Pyrtz explained.

The misuse of Mr Bellette's identity was not only a personal violation but also a serious offence under Victorian law.

Knowingly providing false or misleading information in a nomination statement could result in hefty fines of more than $9,000 and even the loss of a licence for individuals and even larger fines, in excess of $18,000, for organisations.

Mr Bellette and his lawyer are now working with the Department of Justice to untangle this web of false accusations and clear his name.

Mr Bellette’s situation highlighted the challenges faced by seniors in navigating modern technology and bureaucracy.

The story underscores the importance of understanding and advocating for the rights of older adults, particularly when it comes to issues such as fines and penalties.

It also echoed the experience of another senior driver who, despite never owning a mobile phone, found himself facing a fine for allegedly using one while driving.

These instances shed light on the complexities of living in a digital age for older Australians and the need for greater awareness and support within the community.
Key Takeaways
  • A Victorian pensioner was wrongly accused of numerous traffic violations and faced over $20,000 in fines.
  • Kelvin Bellette lost his wallet, including his driver's licence, which led to his being falsely nominated for offences he didn't commit.
  • With the help of his lawyer, Tony Pyrtz, evidence revealed another person was driving in the offending instances, and multiple individuals wrongly attributed offences to Mr Bellette.
  • Authorities were now involved, with the trades business and several individuals scrutinised for potentially providing false information on offence nomination statements, which carries heavy fines and penalties under Victorian law.
Have you or someone you know ever faced a similar issue? What would you do if you were in Mr Bellette’s position? Share your experiences and how you would resolve them in the comments below.
The gentleman whose fine for using his phone was waived should have received some sort of fine for careless driving. He is staring intently at an object and not watching the road.
Will I get fined for staring intently at an in-dash navigation aid and not watching the road?

Speedos, tachos, on-board entertainment are all driver distractions. Are these policed?
Why, when his license went missing was, he not issued with a new license and new license number. This would have avoided all of these problems. The old license would have come up as missing or stolen and would have advised authorities that anyone attempting to use the license for identity were committing an offence.
I haven't used a wallet for 26 years. I was advised by a chiropractor that no matter how thin the wallet is, itstill twists your spine when sitting on it in your car. Licence in a small card carrier. Money safely tucked away somewhere else (not a nasty place). All 'other' cards in a larger card carrier in a backpack or similar.

I hope the VIC cash register/revenue service has returned all his money.
Why do people put their wallet in their back pocket? It is a lot more convenient and safer to put it in a front pocket. You are risking it being easily stolen from a back pocket, and you do not notice that it has gone until you sit down.
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The reason is because the fines were from speed cameras and toll fines, they are nominating from the details on his licence there were no police officers involved.
If he had been issued with a new license and license number in the first place, then none of these issues would have been a problem regardless of the offences. The old license number would have come up as lost or stolen and the fines would have been issued back to the plates on the vehicle and the registered driver.
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Why do people put their wallet in their back pocket? It is a lot more convenient and safer to put it in a front pocket. You are risking it being easily stolen from a back pocket, and you do not notice that it has gone until you sit down.
I cannot get my wallet even empty into any pocket. My wife and son bought me a new handmade wallet last Christmas. The wallet is good quality leather, but it is very bulky with many pockets' sleeves, zips and other hide holes throughout. This wallet is huge at 30mm thick, without anything inside. I did not wish to seem ungrateful with their chose of wallets, so I happily keep it in a carry bag.

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