Created: Mar 23, 2022 4:36 p.m.
Two women have admitted to being “pawns” in separate internet banking scams that cost victims thousands of dollars.
Julie Burchall, 58, pleaded guilty to a single count of money laundering, while Shirley-Ann Pearman, also 58, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining wrongful credit during their appearance before the Supreme Court yesterday.
In both cases, the fraudsters posed as Microsoft employees to convince the victims to give them access to their computers and bank accounts before plundering the victims’ savings.
The court heard that on August 3, 2016, the first victim was contacted by a woman with an East Indian accent who said her computer was infested with computer viruses.
The caller said they could fix the problem for $300, and the victim gave the scammer full access to his computer, along with his debit card information to pay for the service.
However, as soon as the interaction ended, the victim became concerned about the incident and contacted his bank to halt any transaction.
Later that evening, she discovered that $12,500 had been withdrawn from her account, leaving it overdrawn.
She contacted her bank, which said the money had been transferred to Burchall’s account.
Burchall, of Warwick, later admitted that she authorized the use of her account to receive the funds in exchange for $500.
The other $12,000 was withdrawn from her account on August 4, and she said the funds were given to another woman.
Alan Richards, for the Crown, said that although Burchall was not the mastermind of the scheme, she played a crucial role in the scam.
However, Charles Richardson, for Burchall, said his client had also fallen victim to the scam and had refunded all the money she had received.
He said: “Some people find it easier when it’s time to just roll around with them so she can get them off her back than to sound the alarm and suffer embarrassment.”
Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons noted that Burchall had no prior offenses, made restitution, and was not likely to commit any further offenses.
Under the circumstances, she granted Burchall a six-month parole.
In the Pearman case, the court heard that the victim was contacted by someone claiming to be a Microsoft employee on March 3, 2016.
The caller advised her to download an application called “Teamviewer”, which she used to take control of her computer.
The caller then told the victim to use the computer to check his bank accounts to confirm that they had not been tampered with.
The victim then checked his bank account again, only to find that $5,350 had been transferred to an account belonging to Pearman.
The victim contacted Pearman, who said she would make sure the money was returned. However, the court heard that the money had already been transferred from his account.
Later, police searched Pearman’s computers and found a sheet of paper with the words “Teamviewer” written on it.
Elizabeth Christopher, Pearman’s lawyer, said her client was a “pawn” who had been played by the scammers without his knowledge.
She added that her client had tried to return the money to the victim, but the funds had already been withdrawn and his account had been frozen.
Mrs Justice Simmons acknowledged that Pearman had been ‘tricked’ and in the circumstances an absolute discharge was appropriate.
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