Did Scam Artist Also Con the Po­lice?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams

Ad­dress­ing the St Lucia Coun­try Con­fer­ence last week Borde­lais Deputy Di­rec­tor Leonard Ter­rance spoke about the mea­sures cur­rently be­ing im­ple­mented to coun­ter­act hu­man traf­fick­ing, a prob­lem faced by so­ci­eties around the world that is linked to other crimes in­clud­ing money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism. On the lo­cal level, Ter­rance high­lighted some of con­tribut­ing fac­tors to the of­fense that typ­i­cally re­volves around forced labour, or com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

“You have a case even in St Lucia right now where em­ploy­ment is scarce, and now per­sons are try­ing to seek em­ploy­ment over­seas, on cruise ships, on farms over­seas, and per­sons are com­ing down to re­cruit and do all kinds of things, and recruitment agen­cies are set up,” the prison rep­re­sen­ta­tive said. “One has to look at this very closely to see who is be­hind all these things that are hap­pen­ing there, be­cause when such things hap­pen, they can lead to in­ci­dences of hu­man traf­fick­ing.”

Just days af­ter ad­dress­ing the is­sue of hu­man traf­fick­ing and fraud, a woman was ar­rested in St Lucia for sus­pected in­volve­ment with a job scam. Scores of peo­ple re­port­edly came for­ward claim­ing to be vic­tims of the scheme that re­volved around at­tain­ing em­ploy­ment over­seas. Her ar­rest was ex­e­cuted by em­ploy­ees of a pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pany on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 29. One of the em­ploy­ees claimed the woman had at­tempted to de­ceive him. In a de­tailed au­dio record­ing shared with the STAR, the em­ployee who made the ar­rest can be heard in­form­ing the woman of her rights on the same day that scores of pass­ports were dis­cov­ered at her place of dwelling.

“We know what you're do­ing,” the man can be heard say­ing. “We have been mon­i­tor­ing you, and over ten peo­ple have iden­ti­fied you as the in­di­vid­ual who is propos­ing to get jobs for them over­seas, and I was your bait, to get to you.”

For the du­ra­tion of their con­ver­sa­tion the woman re­mains mostly silent. She is later es­corted to the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment. Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion re­ceived by the STAR from in­di­vid­u­als who had been in con­tact with the woman in ques­tion, the jobs be­ing of­fered in­cluded farm­ing, con­struc­tion, cook­ing, and clean­ing. There were also open­ings for an en­gi­neer and a driver, all with a ba­sic salary of 200 Euro per week, and a work­day sched­ule of 5-1 p.m. on Mon­day to Fri­day.

“It de­pends on what you're do­ing the salary can be higher than that,” the woman ex­plains in the au­dio record­ing. Rent, food and monthly trips back home were ap­par­ently also in­cluded in the too good to be true pack­age. The ‘lucky' few who made it through the ques­tion­able se­lec­tion process were due to leave the is­land on Novem­ber 6.

Since her ar­rest on Satur­day, the woman was said to have been re­leased, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial word from a Royal St Lucia Po­lice Force source, "be­cause wit­nesses did not come for­ward in time." State­ments have since been col­lected, and the woman was re­ar­rested this week.

“She is known to the po­lice,” the se­cu­rity guard who was one of the per­sons re­spon­si­ble for her ini­tial ar­rest told the STAR. “They had been look­ing for her for about five years.” There have been a num­ber of re­ports of scams on the is­land in re­cent times. Per­pet­u­ated through tech­nol­ogy and com­monly in per­son, tar­gets of­ten fall vic­tim to their own gen­eros­ity, or lack of re­search. At last week's con­fer­ence, speak­ing to the is­sue of St Lu­cians read­ily ac­cept­ing pro­pos­als from strangers, Borde­lais' Deputy Di­rec­tor stated: “Peo­ple come from wher­ever they come from and we read­ily ac­cept them, and they be­come our friends… You will see noth­ing un­til they lure you in, not even real­iz­ing you are part and par­cel of the prob­lem. Maybe at some point in time we have to stop be­ing friendly for a lit­tle while.”

In­for­ma­tion com­ing to the STAR at press time con­firmed that the woman was back in po­lice cus­tody, with charges ex­pected to be laid on Fri­day.

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