Neil Benjamin of Lot 254 Section ‘C’ Enterprise, East Coast Demerara, was this morning sentenced to two years in jail after he admitted to defrauding two of his friends.

He appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts when he asked for time to repay the money but was denied and instead sentenced.

It is alleged that between June 6, 2020 and December 30, 2020, at Georgetown, with intent to defraud $1, 168, 000, he obtained from Odessa Bob, by falsely pretending to her that he is in the position to obtain two homes and land from the Ministry of Housing for her, knowing same to be false.

It was also alleged that between December 19, 2020 and January 8, 2020, at Carmichael Street, Georgetown, with intent to defraud, he obtained $360,000 from Vanessa James by pretending he was in a position to purchase and deliver a motorcar to her, knowing same to be false.

He pleaded guilty with explanation to both charges.

The prosecutor told the court that Bob and Benjamin have been friends for years and that during the period of time mentioned in the charge, Benjamin contacted Bob and told her about turnkey houses he was able to assist her with purchasing. He initially told her that the house would cost $4, 200,000. She then made a down payment of $600,000. This amount was to facilitate the processing fee he had told her. Bob however, also informed her uncle, who resides in the United States of America, about the houses and he asked her to assist him with getting one. She then told Benjamin.

Bob’s uncle transferred $568,000 for her to make down payments to him. But after handing the money over to Benjamin, she was approached by a colleague who informed her that Benjamin was charged with fraud in 2017 and she then went to the police and made a report. An investigation conducted by the police, revealed that the man had no authority to collect payments for any Ministry of Housing related matters. Hence he was contacted and then cautioned. He admitted to the charge brought forward, the prosecutor said.

The court also heard that Benjamin and James met via Facebook and subsequently met in person. The prosecutor said that Benjamin was at Bob’s residence when he overheard her discussing desire to purchase a car and he informed her that he could assist her as he has linkages at the Chris Auto Spares. He then took her to the place and helped her choose a car. The prosecutor said that between the periods stated in the charge, the woman made payments to Benjamin which were to be paid to the car dealership. The money amounted to the amount stated in the charge. The prosecutor said there are receipts which she made him sign to prove that she had given the money to him. After she never received the car, she found out that the man had fraud related charges against him and she subsequently made a report to the police. An investigation revealed that Benjamin has no linkages at the car dealership place.

The prosecutor further told the court that the man had been charged with similar offenses in 2018 and had settled the matters by paying the victims.

Benjamin was given the opportunity to address the court and he informed that he was approached by both women to repay the amoutns paid to him and that he did not have the money at the time. He then said that he is asking the court to grant him the time to pay the women. He also said that he had told James that he would assist her with $200,000 for the payment of the car. He told the court that he will work and be able to pay the women.

However, the Chief Magistrate said that he had been approached and couldn’t pay the women, as such, she sentenced him to two years imprisonment for the first charge and 18 months in jail for the second. He was told that the charges will run consecutively, hence he will serve two years in jail.


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