Crown: Woman stole $1.9M in PR scam

| 07/03/2019
Cayman News Service, rape

Law Courts Building, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Crown prosecutor Toyin Salako told a jury on Thursday that Judith Douglas (53) stole almost CI$2 million from just one victim in a more than five-year scam where she falsely promised to secure the man permanent residency (PR), status and a Caymanian passport. The George Town woman managed to con Nathaniel Robb, an owner in a watersports operation, into believing she was representing people in government who could secure his status. Taking cash in a piecemeal way between November 2010 and January 2016, she “continually moved the goal posts”, sucking her victim into the scam until she had stolen well over $1.9 million, the crown said.

Setting out the crown’s case against Douglas, who is charged with obtaining property by deception, Salako said that Robb met Douglas through a neighbour in October 2010 after he had been in Cayman for some nine years.

During their first meeting she told Robb, who was at the time on a work permit, that she could get him permanent residency, then status and a local passport for a fee of CI$8,000. Douglas led Robb to believe that she was a “courier” for a government department that was looking for “good people” who could be given Caymanian status. Robb took Douglas up on her offer and soon after meeting her, he gave her $8,000 to start the process.

But shortly after that, Douglas conned him into believing he needed to pay another $3,000, but, as was to become a pattern, she told him that most of the money he was paying was refundable and he would get the money back. Over the protracted period of what the crown contends was an elaborate scam, she continued to ask for more and more money in ever-increasing amounts in order to keep the process on track.

Douglas did have him make a genuine PR application, which he filed with immigration himself and paid the actual administrative fee of several hundred dollars directly to government. By that time, however, he had also paid Douglas more than CI$160,000.

When he was granted residency, he was sucked further into her con believing that she had made it happen, when in reality the money he had paid to her played no part in his receiving PR, which he had achieved in accordance with the law.

But Douglas continued to scam Robb by making him believe that the increasing amounts of money he was paying her was helping him in his goal to get status and, ultimately, a Caymanian passport. Douglas supported the scam by sending letters to Robb that purported to come from government committees and a government worker by the name of Roger Banks, whom Robb never met.

The victim was called on occasions by a man he never met who claimed to be from the department in government dealing with his status application. This man would also ask for more money or make excuses about the changes in the process, which he said were causing delays or had seen fees increase.

During the history of the scam, before Robb eventually reported Douglas to the police, he kept a record of all of the money he paid, which was almost always in cash, except on one occasion when he gave Douglas a check for $2,000.

He recorded all of the payments in a spread sheet, which tied up with his own bank records and meetings documented in phone records with Douglas. He also kept all of the receipts he ever received from Douglas, as well as letters and memos that he believed were from the people in government dealing with his applications.

The process was also documented in WhatsApp and text messages, which will form part of the crown’s case against Douglas to support evidence from Robb, who took the stand Thursday afternoon and began recounting how he met Douglas and his belief that she was helping him achieve his goal.

After more than five years of allegedly conning her victim, Douglas was arrested in January 2016, when she told police she had heard the name of the person making the complaint but knew nothing about the accusations or stealing the money. She was then interviewed by investigators but answered “no comment” to all of their questions.

Douglas was later charged and eventually pleaded not guilty to the allegations in January last year.

The case, which is being presided over by visiting Grand Court judge, Justice Tim Owen, continues.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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