8 years in jail for fraudster who conned 26 individuals by pretending to be property owner
A cleaner who pretended to be the owner of property she was employed to clean and collected money from tenants has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
38-year-old Alexia Micallef, from Msida, appeared before Magistrate Francesco Depasquale this morning facing multiple charges related to fraud. The court heard how at least 26 individuals fell to the scam and were cheated some €800 each by the accused. Micallef carried out the scam by using the keys entrusted to her for cleaning services. She would then collect a deposit by pretending to be the owner only to later tell the victims that the flat was undergoing repairs and they could not move in.
Her crime was outed on Facebook when a number of Eastern European nationals took to the social media complaining they were targeted by the fraudster. These individuals posted pictures of the accused and her identification documents online only to be taken down later.
Alexia Micallef also stood charged with breaching the bail conditions imposed by a previous court presided by magistrate Miriam Hayman back in November 2013 which also included charges of fraud. The suspended sentence period was due to terminate in November this year.
The woman pleaded guilty to the charges brought against her.
Prosecuting inspector Matthew Vella explained that the woman cooperated with the police and presented the necessary documents related to the case. He then presented evidence including the contractual agreements which were used by the accused to take the money. Receipts and an envelope with a handful of keys were also presented before the courts.
Defence lawyer Noel Cutajar, who appeared as legal aid, said that the woman had to resort herself to such a scheme as she was entangled in a vicious circle of usury. “She felt this was the only way out of the usury she was facing. She came up with this scheme and managed to pay the money owed,” the lawyer added.
In filing a request for bail, Cutajar said that the court should acknowledge the fact that she cooperated with the police in full and even presented all necessary documents to the authorities. He said that it should also be noted that she handed some of the money to the police.
The prosecution also noted the circumstances which led her to such a situation.
The court, presided by Magistrate Francesco Depasquale asked the accused to reconfirm or reconsider her admission and she confirmed her admission.
The court said that while it understands the situations which led the accused to come up with such a scheme, it cannot ignore the breach of bail conditions imposed on her by a previous court.
While noting that she cooperated with the police, the woman was found guilty of all the charges pressed against her and was condemned to eight years in prison. “Let this be a message for you and everyone else, that when trapped into usury, one should seek help from the authorities and not try and take matters into own hands,” the magistrate concluded.