Case re-opens in alleged $2M status scam

| 24/06/2019
Cayman News Service
Cayman Islands courts, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The crown has re-opened its case against a George Town woman who is accused of scamming well over $1.9 million from a US citizen who was seeking permanent residency and Caymanian status. Judith Douglas was on trial earlier this year but the case was derailed over legal issues.

However, she returned to the dock Monday, when prosecutor Toyin Salako explained to a jury how the crown believes Douglas was able to scam Nathaniel Robb out of the massive amount of cash over a five-year period.

Douglas managed to convince Robb that she was able to help him by pretending that she was acting as a legitimate go-between for him and people in government who were seeking “the right kind of people to get Caymanian status”.

Salako told the jury of five women and one man that the scam was kept alive for so long because as far as her victim could tell, Douglas did secure his permanent residency, though in fact Robb was granted residency because he met the lawful criteria and not as a result of anything Douglas had done other than submitting his forms.

But believing she was acting as a genuine agent, Robb continued to pay her money in order to secure the next step in the process of Caymanian status and eventually a Cayman Islands passport.

He believed that the significant sums of cash he paid would be refunded, and even though Douglas continued to move the goal posts and fob him off with stories and excuses, he continued paying almost $2 million over the five-year scam. But if he had applied for status himself, it should have cost him no more than around $1,500.

When Robb appeared in the witness stand, he said he came to the Cayman Islands in 2001 from South Carolina and was working as a dive instructor on a permit with a local firm.

Several years later he joined with a Caymanian partner in his own watersports business, where he still works. He was introduced to Douglas in late 2010 by a neighbour around the time he was seeking to acquire residency. From that point on, after Douglas told him she could help with that and get him status, all for around $8,000, he began giving her money until he eventually realised he had been the victim of a con and reported the scam to the police in January 2016.

Following that initial payment Douglas conned him into believing he needed to pay another $3,000, which was to become a pattern over the ensuing five years. Douglas repeatedly told him that most of the money he was paying was refundable and when his status was secured he would get it all back. But she continued to ask for more and more money in ever-increasing amounts, which she said was in order to keep the process on track.

Douglas supported the scam by sending letters to Robb that purported to come from government committees and a government employee by the name of Roger Banks. Although Robb said he never met Banks, he was called on occasions by two different men who claimed to be from the department in government dealing with his status application. These men would also ask for more money or make excuses about the changes in the process which were causing delays or had seen fees increase in connection with his application.

But during the entire history of the scam Robb maintained a spread sheet recording the money he had given to Douglas, which was almost always in cash, except on one occasion when he gave Douglas a check for $2,000. The transactions matched his bank account records and meetings documented in records of phone calls and messages with Douglas, which are all in evidence in the case. 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.

But after Robb became almost bankrupt, he realised that he had been conned and went to the police. Douglas was then arrested and answered no comment when interviewed by the police. She was later charged and a year after her arrest pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

The case, which is being presided over by visiting Grand Court judge, Justice Carlisle Greaves, is expect to continue for the next two weeks.

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