An aerial view of the Stuart Highway, south of the township of Elliott.

Fraudster lands in jail after stealing identity to escape South Australian authorities

The trip of a lifetime has come to a crashing halt for a criminal who stole the identity of a man in South Australia, in an attempt to escape authorities and flee to the Northern Territory.

Travis Whyte, while on bail for offenses allegedly committed in South Australia, assumed the identity of another man, after coming into possession of his wallet in Whyalla in September 2021.

Over the next two weeks, Whyte made his way to Darwin using the stolen bank cards, stealing fuel and twice evading police along the way.

He was eventually arrested in Darwin, attempting to purchase a $70,000 car.

In a letter Whyte wrote to a friend from prison in January this year, released by the court, he described his crimes as “the best 20 days of [his] life”.

“Darwin, first three days and I blew through my cash!!” Whyte wrote.

“Everyone thinks I’m [this] other bloke… his bank gave me full access to his 200k!! So I’m up on $180k fraud charges and looking at 2.5 years … I had the best 20 days of my life bro!! I can die a happy man!!”

The man went on a trip after coming into possession of someone else’s wallet.(ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)

“Spending somebody else’s money, buying cars to avoid detection, visiting a number of landmark sites in the NT [such as] the Devil’s Marbles, really enjoying himself in the course of this spree,” said Crown Prosecutor Tami Grealy.

“He continued until he was caught.”

A man who will “say anything to anyone to get what he wants”, according to Ms Grealy, Whyte withdrew close to $25,000 from the man’s accounts and was able to receive checks totaling $81,848 from the man’s bank by impersonating him.

He pleaded guilty to eight offences, including five charges of obtaining benefit by deception.

A map of Australia with a path running from Whyalla hotel to Darwin.
Travis Whyte went on a two-week roadtrip and was charged with fraud after coming into possession of someone else’s wallet.

The ‘best two weeks’

According to a statement of facts tendered to the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Whyte stopped at various roadhouses and hotels along the Stuart Highway as he made his way from Whyalla to Darwin.