Mon | May 10, 2021

Convicted scammer to pay Gov't $6M over 10 years

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 2:08 PM
The payment is part of a Pecuniary Penalty Order obtained by Financial Investigations Division (FID) under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which was filed in court.

A 31-year-old St James man, who was convicted in 2015 after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of identity information with intent to use, has been ordered to pay the Government $6 million over the next 10 years.

The payment is part of a Pecuniary Penalty Order obtained by Financial Investigations Division (FID) under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which was filed in court.

In a media release, FID explained that Romander Fletcher reportedly benefited to the tune of J$11.4 million from his participation in lottery scamming activities over a four-year period leading up to his 2014 arrest. FID says Fletcher's role was to collect remittances and direct transfers to his bank account following which he withdrew the funds thereby ending the paper trail.

Following his conviction, Fletcher lost his employment in the hospitality sector. He claims to now be employed in the construction industry as a mason.

In commenting on the time which elapsed between Fletcher’s conviction and the benefit hearing in 2021, FID Director of Legal Services, Courtney Smith, said: “his constitutional rights had to be protected, so the Court was giving him time to properly instruct his counsel and mount his defence just so it wouldn’t be an issue for appeal if we ever got through that trial. We eventually decided to settle this matter because having looked through the evidence he was unable to mount a reasonable defence.”

Among the reasons given for Fletcher’s inability to mount a reasonable defence was that he feared endangering himself and his family if he revealed the name of the mastermind.

His defence counsel indicated he was impoverished at the time of his arrest. When arrested, a sum of just under J$500,000 belonging to Fletcher in a savings account was seized.

Following the submission of arguments from the FID and Fletcher’s defence counsel, he consented to the following:

 

- Forfeiture of the funds remaining in his savings account plus the interest accrued.

- Payment of the sum of J$6M to the government as a Pecuniary Penalty by order made under the POCA.

- The full benefit of J$11.4M becomes due and payable should he commit another ‘scamming’-related offence.

Given the circumstances outlined, the FID says it has agreed to receive payments being made in monthly instalments of J$50,000 until liquidation (about 120 months).

“This is a young man who will be paying this money every month for the next ten years. If he keeps up a legitimate job to pay this from legitimate sources of income it is highly unlikely that he is going to return to a life of scamming again – rehabilitation,” Smith said.

The FID noted that failure to pay is a criminal offence under the POCA, for which Fletcher can be arrested, charged, convicted and imprisoned. The debt will remain to be paid in full plus interest accrued after the prison term.

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