Crime & Law

Aussie Conman Hamish McLaren’s Last Victim Tracy Hall Speaks Out

After losing her life savings, Tracy wants to warn others

When Tracy Hall started dating Max Tavita after meeting him on a dating app in 2016, the divorced mum thought she’d found the love of her life. Almost instantly she felt a click with the handsome financial investor.

“We had similar interests in exercising and being in the outdoors,” Tracy tells WHO.

“He told me he had a really big, stressful job so in his downtime, he just wanted to run and surf and those are the things I really like doing. We just spent more time together and things progressed really quickly.”

So when Max offered to help her set up a self-managed super fund, Tracy had no reason to think anything other than he was using his expertise to look after her best interests and their future.

The only problem was that Max Tavita didn’t exist.

The man that Tracy knew was Hamish McLaren. Over six years, the serial con man fleeced 15 victims out of over $7 million by directing their money into fake investment schemes that promised a high return.

Instead, the cash lined his own pockets.The jig was only up after police arrested him in 2017. But this was too late for Tracy, who had handed over $317,000 in savings and superannuation during their 18-month relationship.

Tracy fell in love with ‘Max’ after meeting on an app, but he was really conman Hamish McLaren. (Credit: Supplied)

“Before I got scammed I was definitely someone who saw people on shows like A Current Affair and I couldn’t relate to their stories and thought that could never happen to me but here I am,” she says.

“I wasn’t handing over cash to some made-up person I’d just met online. This was a man who was a real part of my life that I saw every day. I thought I was safe.”

In 2019, McLaren was sentenced to 16 years behind bars. On appeal, this was reduced to 12 years, with a minimum nine-year non-parole period. He will be eligible to apply for parole as early as July 2026.

“That’s just over two years, so it’s not very far away at all,” says Tracy. “I hope there has been some kind of rehabilitation and he comes out of prison a changed man. But can a person change that much or will he go back to doing what he does best?”

During the time that McLaren was siphoning Tracy’s cash away, he was presenting her with forged documents purporting to show her how well her investment was performing. She has been unable to recover any of it since his arrest.

It is believed some of the money went towards keeping earlier victims on the hook through the pyramid scheme McLaren set up. He has long refused to disclose where he stashed the rest of the cash.

Tracy shared details of her experience in 2019 by speaking with The Australian’s podcast Who the Hell is Hamish? She is now telling even more of her story in her new memoir, The Last Victim.

With McLaren eligible for parole in 2026, Tracy is sharing her story so no one else will fall victim to his cons. (Credit: Alana Landsberry)

“What happens when Hamish gets out? No-one knows,” she says.

“The only way to make sure I do stay as his last victim, is to make sure that as many women as possible know about what he’s done so they don’t fall victim to him too. That’s why I did the podcast and the book, I am determined to truly be his last victim,” she explains.

Discovering the truth about the man she wanted to “spend the rest of my life with” left Tracy in “a real mess”. “I didn’t know how I could ever trust again,” she says.

But as a self-professed “eternal optimist” she is now open to the idea of finding love again.

“The truth is that every single one of us is being targeted by scammers to some extent every day,” she says. “My advice to people is just to be really across their finances and put in measures to protect their financial security.”

Buy The Last Victim by Tracy Hall here. 

The Last Victim by Tracy Hall is out now. (Credit: Supplied)

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