Magistrate Douglas Frederick has given the Immigration Department the task of liaising with their counterparts in Jamaica to find out more about a fraudster from that CARICOM country before he is sentenced.
Pointing to the Caribbean Community’s “open border policy” Frederick stated that he “just wanted to make sure that our society is protected” as he requested further information on 25-year-old Alisteir Hakeam Stephen Mighty, of 560 Portmore Villas, Gregory Park, St Catherine, Jamaica before any decision could be made on his fate.
“They have to start sharing information with you and you have to start sharing information with them because as you see our borders are opened,” the judicial officer said after accepting a guilty plea on two fraud charges from the accused.
Mighty appeared in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court this afternoon where he admitted to dishonestly obtaining from Cell Hut Limited a $2,150 cellular phone by falsely representing that he had lawful possession of a Republic Bank Limited Visa Credit Card, in his name and was authorized to use it.
Sergeant Vernon Waithe revealed that Mighty entered the establishment on October 24 and produced a Republic Bank Trinidad Visa Card to pay for the device and other items. On December 9, the bank informed the store that the transaction was fraudulent and the credit card was flagged. The cellular phone was not recovered.
Six weeks later, on December 5, Mighty went to Omni Source Incorporated located on Black Rock Main Road where he attempted to obtain a $1,499.99 television by falsely representing that he was in lawful possession of a Sagicor Bank Digicel My Cash Master Card.
The prosecutor said the non-national had gone to the store previously where he produced a Jamaican driver’s licence in his name and the mastercard in order to purchase the item but the transaction was declined. On December 5, he returned to the store and tried to make another transaction using the same card causing the owner of the store to become suspicious. The police were notified and Mighty was arrested.
Waithe also revealed that Mighty “comes and goes” as the first offence occurred in October and the convict last entered the country on December 3.
In mitigating on his behalf attorney-at-law Naomi Lynton said Mighty was a student at UTech Jamaica where he is pursuing studies in building technology. She revealed that while there he encountered “serious financial difficulties” which caused him to become “vulnerable to the type of approach that he got”.
“Much like a mule in a drug case, there seems to be this pattern where persons organise this particular type of crime and prey on vulnerable individuals, who then make these stupid and poor decisions. So they are the persons on the frontlines of criminal conduct but are not the masterminds behind it,” the defence attorney said adding that her client accepted that he made an “extremely poor decision . . . because what he was attempting to do which is to pay his school fees and lessen the burden on his family, he has now done the opposite”.
Lynton said Mighty was extremely apologetic for his actions and has no family support in Barbados. She urged the court to impose a fine adding that her client “feared repercussions”.
“Your honour I am truly sorry for having committed these acts against these people who have not done anything to me because I found myself in a position where I chose to make my decision because of the circumstances,” Mighty said in his own defence. When questioned further by the magistrate he added: “I am here on vacation and to carry out the act.”
However, Magistrate Frederick said he had to consider the level of cooperation that Mighty gave to police in terms of “breaking this ring.” He maintained that it was in the public’s interest to have these crimes “rooted out” from the society.
“This obviously sounds like it’s a little bit bigger than it is so I can’t rush and say deport him; or reprimand and discharge; or convict, reprimand and discharge him. This is how it should happen there should be some information sharing because who knows, he says that he is a student, we need to verify that and see if there is some concerns about this and then I will make my decision.
“I am thinking about what is necessary for this society and stopping things like this. I just want to make sure that our society is protected. The money he is willing to pay can’t [address] it. This is a big ring, if this is something that is going to be the new trend, the new norm. I am asking Immigration to check his background and see if what he is saying is true,” Frederick said before remanding Mighty to Dodds until December 20. “I am only keeping him for as long as is necessary.”