(CNS): A local woman who bought a Toyota RAV for a few thousand dollars on the local classified website Ecay was conned out of her cash but two years after the crime a US court refunded the woman following a successful criminal investigation. The case, which involved the RCIPS, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and investigation teams with Money Gram International, resulted in the conviction of four people and the recovery of $163,000 from the scammers.
The woman bought the car advertised on the website from what she thought was a Caymanian student attending school in the US. She sent cash via a remittance service to Indiana and was told the car would be available in East End but there was never any sign of the car once the cash was transmitted. The victim reported the online scam to the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit and they contacted the FBI.
The US inquiries then led to the discovery that the same people involved in the complaint originating in the Cayman Islands had defrauded another 17 victims in 14 countries in 88 separate transactions using similar tactics.
Between December 2015 and September 2016 four people in the US were arrested and pleaded guilty to various dishonesty offences related to the scheme. The US court ordered the repatriation of funds to victims, including the victim who originally filed the complaint here in Cayman Islands.
Pete Lansdown, Detective Superintendent of Criminal Investigations, said it was a “wonderful example” of law enforcement cooperation and the “the best way to prevent and track fraud and financial crime that is increasingly international and cyber-enabled. Even more importantly, though, this case illustrates that these kinds of crimes can be solved, with a good result for victims who have lost their money. I encourage anyone who has fallen victim to these kinds of schemes to report it to us.”
This is the first time a US court has restored and repatriated funds to a fraud victim in the Cayman Islands, and it is the successful result of collaborative efforts.
The RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit can be reached at 949-8797. Anonymous tips can be provided at the RCIPS Confidential Tip Line at 949-7777.