Is Joel Sa­muel a scammer or vic­tim of false charges?

Kyiv Post - - News - Kyiv Post staff writer Mark Rachkevych can be reached at [email protected] com.

For years, In­dian-born ex­pa­tri­ate Joel Sa­muel trav­eled around Kyiv with a con­fi­dent swag­ger, name-drop­ping big con­nec­tions, claim­ing to work in night­club man­age­ment and soft­ware de­vel­op­ment.

Now po­lice say he was a scammer who al­legedly swin­dled peo­ple out of more than $400,000.

Sa­muel, 30, has been in Kyiv’s Lukyanivka pre­trial de­ten­tion cen­ter since Fe­bru­ary, Judge Yevhen Sy­dorov told the Kyiv Post at the Kyiv City Shevchenko Dis­trict Court. In May, pros­e­cu­tors handed over the crim­i­nal case to the Shevchenko Dis­trict Court. Closed crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings re­sumed on Sept. 6, dur­ing which one al­leged vic­tim, Ja­panese ci­ti­zen Pouru Ota, tes­ti­fied. Ota claims Sa­muel stole $355,000 in a real es­tate fraud scheme.

If con­victed of the state charges – fi­nan­cial fraud, grand theft and forgery – Sa­muel faces up to 12 years in prison.

Sa­muel called the Kyiv Post sev­eral times and sent nu­mer­ous text mes­sages while in cus­tody, start­ing on Aug. 21, to in­sis­tently pro­claim his in­no­cence. “I’m deny­ing ev­ery­thing,” he said.

When asked of his where­abouts dur­ing the first phone call, Sa­muel ini­tially de­nied he was in jail. Sa­muel’s lawyer de­clined to dis­cuss the case with the Kyiv Post.

Sa­muel urged the Kyiv Post not to print an ar­ti­cle about him “un­less you’ve got 100 per­cent proof” or else “if and when I’m found not guilty, I’ll fight back with ev­ery­thing I got.”

Sa­muel moved around in Kyiv’s ex­pa­tri­ate community in re­cent years, pitch­ing var­i­ous busi­ness ideas. In early 2011, for ex­am­ple, Sa­muel and a team of pro­gram­mers were re­tained by the Kyiv Post as iPad ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ers in ex­change for free ad­ver­tise­ments for Heaven night­club, which he claimed to co-own. Af­ter sev­eral months, how­ever, the Kyiv Post sev­ered its ties with Sa­muel amid con­cerns about him and the prod­uct.

The Leeds Crown Court con­victed Sa­muel of six crim­i­nal of­fenses in Eng­land. He spent five years in prison, from 2002 to 2007, as the con­fessed ring­leader of a credit card fraud gang that stole nearly $200,000, ac­cord­ing to British me­dia re­ports. He also pleaded guilty to ob­tain­ing prop­erty by de­cep­tion and co­op­er­ated with au­thor­i­ties.

Sa­muel ad­mit­ted to do­ing prison time in Eng­land for what he de­scribed as the “largest credit card fraud in Eng­land at that time.” Fol­low­ing Sa­muel’s ar­rest, British po­lice re­port­edly found so­phis­ti­cated copy­ing equip­ment, bank lo­gos and enough plas­tic at his res­i­dence to pro­duce 19,000 fake cards.

Sa­muel, ac­cord­ing to the Leeds Crown Court, ini­tially re­ceived a sev­enyear sen­tence af­ter pros­e­cu­tors pro­vided ev­i­dence in court about how he had used cloned cards to put de­posits on lux­ury sports cars, stay in posh ho­tels and dine at lav­ish restau­rants. But the Lon­don Court of Ap­peal later re­duced the sen­tence to five and a half years.

Ukrainian po­lice al­lege Sa­muel de­frauded Ota, 45, the Ja­panese busi­ness­man, of more than $350,000 and stole a Porsche Cayenne worth $80,000 as well as a $30,000 Vertu mo­bile phone.

Ota, who lives in Ukraine, told the Kyiv Post at the Shevchenko Dis­trict Court on Sept. 6 that he met Sa­muel through a real es­tate agency while on the mar­ket to buy a third apart­ment in Kyiv in De­cem­ber “as an in­vest­ment for my two Ukraine-born chil­dren … I thought I would give him a chance when I met him to sell me prop­erty. He seemed trust­wor­thy.”

Ota al­leges that Sa­muel had in Jan­uary used a fraud­u­lent power-ofat­tor­ney, us­ing a Sri Lankan pass­port un­der the name Irosha Trinty Per­era, to with­draw more than $350,000 from a Kyiv bank af­ter he had trans­ferred funds for the pur­chase of an apart­ment. The Kyiv Post has ob­tained a color copy of his al­leged Sri Lankan pass­port.

Ota al­leges that at one point, on Jan. 25, he was re­fused en­try into Ukraine when he came to in­ves­ti­gate whether the money was miss­ing.

Sa­muel, who ac­cord­ing to po­lice records was born in Chen­nai, In­dia, was de­tained in Fe­bru­ary for al­legedly steal­ing the lux­ury mo­bile phone. While Sa­muel was in cus­tody, po­lice say they un­cov­ered other al­leged trans­gres­sions, in­clud­ing the with­drawal of $355,000 from Ota’s ac­count at a Ukrainian bank.

Sa­muel may have come to Ukraine in 2008. A per­son with the same name, date of birth and parental ori­gins ap­plied for a job at the Kyiv Post. Sa­muel de­nied ap­ply­ing for any job in Ukraine.

In the cover let­ter and re­sume, the Sa­muel who con­tacted the Kyiv Post claimed to have been born and raised in South Lon­don and to have grad­u­ated with a de­gree in phi­los­o­phy and eco­nom­ics from the Univer­sity of Bris­tol in 2001. He also stated that his fa­ther was a church min­is­ter in the U.K. On his re­sume, the ap­pli­cant claimed to have worked for Bar­clays Bank as a fi­nan­cial ad­viser in 2001-2004, while Sa­muel was in prison.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Sa­muel’s Ukrainian visa ex­pired more than two years ago. Po­lice records list him as an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant. Sa­muel said he wasn’t al­lowed to leave the coun­try to re­new his visa.

He also al­legedly used aliases. He made sen­sa­tional claims – such as that he is the nephew of slain Tamil Tiger leader Thiru­venkadam Prab­hakaran. The Kyiv Post was un­able to cor­rob­o­rate this claim.

In a Skype call with the Kyiv Post from the U.K., Sa­muel’s fa­ther – Rev. Thu­raira­jah Sa­muel – said “these are fab­ri­cated sto­ries.” Sa­muel’s fa­ther said that he hasn’t seen his son for years and that he has “de­parted ways and is no longer con­nected with him.”

Sa­muel’s name and var­i­ous aliases are listed on nu­mer­ous fraud alert web­sites and fo­rums, in­clud­ing ripof­fre­port.com.

The In­dian Em­bassy didn’t re­spond to sev­eral Kyiv Post in­quiries. The British Em­bassy said that they were “aware of him.”

Joel Sa­muel

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