Alleged ATM Swindlers Remanded to Prison

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Belize City: Tuesday, 22nd January 2019

Three South American nationals charged with “Preparation to commit a crime” were arraigned before Magistrate Patricia Arana on Monday, January 21st, 2019. They were remanded to the Hattieville prison until 27th March, 2019 after bail was denied due to suspicion of possible “flight risk.” They are Edgar Jovani Vargas Vaca, 36-year-old Colombian, Juan Alfonso Espinoza Saavedra, 35-year-old Chilean and Luis Miguel Marroquin, 24-year-old Peruvian, were allegedly caught installing an illegal equipment on two ATM machines belonging to Scotiabank.

Police revealed that the men were under surveillance for about a year before they were intercepted last week whilst they were installing an equipment at the Belama branch of Scotiabank.

Joseph Myvette, who heads NCIB, said that police has video evidence of the men installing the equipment. Quick police work managed to confiscate the equipment that they were installing to the ATM machine .Myvette also alleged that the men also tampered with Scotia’s Dangriga Branch ATM but gave no details because the bank has not exposed any evidence or made any formal statement. The illegal equipment is described as a mechanism designed to obtain customers personal information from their ATM card.

Meanwhile, Defence Attorney, Hurl Hamilton requested that the charges be heard summarily but Magistrate Arana concurred with the DPP’s view that the matter be heard as an indictable offence. Hamilton stated that the defendants had the authority to choose which forum they wanted their case to be heard but was ignored. He stated that in his opinion there is no evidence that outlines that the charge of “Preparation to commit a crime” is an offence and declared that for it to be an attempt it had to be more than just preparation.