8 years in jail for fraud­ster who conned 26 in­di­vid­u­als by pre­tend­ing to be prop­erty owner

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.