Swindler to be ordered to compensate victims

PHILIPSBURG--A 52-year-old man suspected of having swindled at least ten persons out of considerable amounts of money, is facing 180 days in prison, 84 of which are to be suspended, on two years’ probation.
 
Defendant F.S.J. will also have to pay damages to three of his victims, who were present at Wednesday’s Court hearing, the Judge announced.
 
The suspect confessed to the alleged crimes. Between October 1, 2018, and February 22, 2019, he robbed at least 10 persons of their money by taking a false identity and by what the Prosecutor’s Office said were “cunning tricks” and a “web of fabrications.” He was also charged with money laundering.
 
According to the Prosecution, the suspect had “contrary to the truth” told his victims that he would be able to render them a wide range of different (government) services for a fee.
 
For instance, he had posed as an Immigration officer claiming that he could arrange admission papers and residence documents. Others he had told he could arrange passports for and driver’s licences. He had also promised to arrange apartments for several persons and bus permits. Another person he had told he could arrange a Canadian visa because he said he had worked in the Canadian embassy.
 
Three victims presented themselves to the Court on Wednesday to claim damages totalling US $17,701. The defendant confessed he had used the money for his living expenses.
 
J. suffers with a medical problem for which he needs to undergo surgery in Colombia. He promised to the Court he would pay back the swindled amounts to his victims as soon as he returned to work. He said he did not have any assets, such as a house or a vehicle, which he could sell to pay off his debts.
 
In anticipating the verdict in this case, which will be pronounced on Wednesday, August 28, the Judge said he would award compensation to the victims. The Court will also impose a so-called “compensation measure” (“schadevergoedingsmaatregel”), the Judge said. This means that the Prosecutor’s Office will assist the victims in retrieving their money from the culprit. However, “you cannot take blood from a stone,” the Judge said in cautioning the victims, among whom were a mother and her son, against too much optimism.
 
The Prosecutor said J. had been caught in the act by one of his victims after he had found out his foe was not working for the Immigration and Border Protection (IBP) Services and proved unable to deliver the requested documents. The other victims could be traced via WhatsApp messages on the suspect’s phone.
 
The suspect admitted he was wrong and said he was “ashamed” of himself. The Prosecutor said the man’s act had had quite an impact on his victims.
 
“Some victims were desperate and kept paying and paying to get an apartment but ended up on the street for lack of money,” the Prosecutor said in his closing speech.
 
He said the suspect – who spent 96 days in pre-trial detention – had caused a lot of pain to his victims. The Prosecutor said there was no need to send the defendant back to prison, but he considered a conditional prison sentence warranted. “Swindlers are easy talkers and it could easily happen again,” the Prosecutor said. Attorney-at-law Shaira Bommel pleaded not-guilty on her client’s behalf, on the money-laundering charges.
 
The Daily Herald

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