(CNS): Paul Hume Ebanks (50) from Bodden Town was remanded in custody Tuesday after a jury took less than three hours to unanimously find him guilty of 27 charges of obtaining property by deception and theft in a status grant con. He was convicted of taking more than $167,000 from at least two dozen people after he duped foreign nationals into believing they were buying the right to live in Cayman or become Caymanians. Ebanks had claimed that he was scammed as well as his victims, as he accused the former Cayman Islands premier McKeeva Bush of orchestrating a scheme similar to the infamous mass status grant of 2003.
Following the jury’s verdict, the judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for Thursday before he remanded Ebanks, who is facing a lengthy jail term, to HMP Northward.
Having pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, Ebanks had claimed that he was working on behalf of McKeeva Bush, who is the current opposition leader, and numerous other UDP officials in a genuine Cabinet status grant scheme. His defence in the con was that he had been recruited by the UDP hierarchy to find 100 potential candidates that could, for a fee of around $1500, be granted permanent residency or status in order to boost the electoral roll ahead of the 2012 election.
The crown’s case against him was that the scheme was a complete con invented entirely by Ebanks, who has a long history of deception and orchestrating criminal scams and even has previous convictions for the same offence. Prosecutors said that Ebanks evoked the names of Bush, other members of the UDP and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson as a way of making the con look legitimate so he could recruit unwitting individuals to help him find more victims and to convince them the scam was real.
But things unraveled for Ebanks when the people he had conned began to suspect it was a scam and started to demand their money back. After those he recruited to help him wrote to Bush and alerted other government officials, Ebanks was arrested, though he continued to try and con more victims even after his arrest.
Ebanks had been charged with 28 counts but the judge had directed that the jury should return a not guilty verdict on one count as there was no evidence before the court to support the details of that offence. But during the trial Ebanks had claimed that he had given more than $250,000 in collected fees to Bush, implying that he could have conned even more victims that have yet to come forward.