Venezuelan sentenced for fake ATM cards

A VENEZUELAN man who carried out a “very systematic attack on our financial institutions” by fraudulently obtaining close to $.2 million using fake ATM cards has been sentenced to six years’ hard labour by a Port of Spain magistrate.

Jorge Julio was sentenced today by magistrate Marissa Gomez at the Port of Spain First Court, where he first appeared on March 11, days after he and another Venezuelan were arrested at an apartment in St Ann’s, Port of Spain.

Both men were charged with being in possession of 182 fraudulent ATM cards and $188,300 in cash, knowing that the money was the proceeds of fraud and for the purpose of money laundering.

They both pleaded guilty. but when they reappeared in court, only Julio maintained his guilty plea.

In all, Julio was sentenced to 12 years’ hard labour – three years for the two card-possession charges and six years for money laundering. Since the magistrate ordered that the sentences are to run concurrently, he will only serve six years.

The men were arrested on Carnival Sunday by detectives of the Financial Intelligence Unit who set up surveillance at First Citizens Bank (FCB) branch at One Woodbrook Place after receiving reports of suspicious transactions from the bank's security personnel.

The police reportedly observed the men there and then followed them to the apartment building at Sydenham Avenue, St Ann's. They obtained a search warrant, then raided the apartment and found the cash and two sets of blank credit cards hidden in a cupboard and a covered baking dish.

The other man will return to court on May 13.

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