‘Romance scheme’ man charged for defrauding woman on Facebook

An East Bank Demerara (EBD) man was on Tuesday charged by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) with three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.
Jaffon Hinds, of Downer Street, Grove, EBD, appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Zamina Ally and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Charged: Jaffon Hinds

Based on reports received by SOCU, Hinds, who is a production administrator at Caribbean Containers Incorporated, collected a total sum of $502,340 from the victim. The payments were made on three separate occasions. He was alleged to have acted as a third party for another person who befriended the victim via Facebook .
The victim claimed she sent the money to Hinds using a Western Union money transfer after she was instructed to do so by her Facebook ‘boyfriend’, who promised her a huge package with lots of expensive items.
To date, she said, she has never received any package and her Facebook ‘boyfriend’ has since ceased contact with her. The matter was investigated by SOCU, and Hinds was arrested and charged. He was granted $30,000 bail on each count by Magistrate Ally. The matter was adjourned to August 15, 2022.
In April, SOCU Head, Assistant Commissioner Fazil Karimbaksh warned of a sharp rise in cases where suspected Nigerian nationals who are in the country illegally, as well as some outside of Guyana, are working with local accomplices to carry out scams and pyramid schemes on unsuspecting persons.
Karimbaksh indicated that “Package Delivery” and “Romance” scams became more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic as scammers targeted primarily women via several social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as well as online dating sites.
He explained that the modus operandi used by the scammers is to befriend unsuspecting women via the digital platforms using fake profiles of Caucasian men with luxury vehicles and large sums of cash.
“After communicating with the victim for some time to build trust with their `new friend’ or `love interest’, the scammer promises the intended victim, some form of assistance,” he said, noting that in most instances it is supposedly a package containing valuable gift items, such as designer clothing, jewellery, televisions, cell phones, other electronic devices, and money.
The Head of SOCU explained, “The victim is usually contacted by a local associate of the scammer, confirming the arrival of the package and requesting their personal contact and other information. The intended victim is subsequently contacted again and requested to deposit money to a specified local bank account or send it via a money transfer agency or the Guyana Post Office Corporation”.
He said they inform the victim that the payment is required to cover brokerage fees, customs duties, penalties, and/or shipping charges for the package(s), which are supposedly found on inspection to contain high-value items. Once the payment is made, the scammers discontinue all contact with the victim(s) who are being robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars. (G9)