Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison made these bench remarks when sentencing a man who obtained a total of $50,000 from three men on “false pretence” to four months in prison.
Walter Mabo, was found guilty after a trial for nine counts of false pretence.
“I am aware that the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) through the Solomon Islands Intelligence Institute and the Police have issued warnings time and again and the public must take heed of the various pieces of advice given,” Hollison said.
He also took judicial notice of the fact that these types of activities and get-rich-quick schemes which have operational elements that constitute a pyramid scheme structure are becoming very common in Solomon Islands.
“The courts will continue to issue deterrent sentences to safeguard and protect members of the public from becoming victims of these fraudsters and tricksters.
“The combined aggregate sentence, in this case, serves as a warning to all the cunning fraudsters that they will be punished for the offences of false pretence and other related offences with lengthy custodial sentence should they be caught,” Hollison added.
Mabo who is a teacher by profession obtained various amounts of money at different dates and months in 2018 in Honiara and Guadalcanal from the victims.
He obtained $5,000 from the first and second victims who are a couple while he obtained $40,000 from the third victim.
The court had heard that Mabo made false representations to reimburse the complainants with a 100 percent profit to the three victims in five of the incidents.
Hollison said in four of the incidents, Mabo promised to reimburse the monies to the third victim.
The first victim in this matter lost his money which was part of the takings from his taxi that he operates to assist his family.
The second victim lost the savings she had for her children while the third victim lost a substantial amount of money of more than $40,000 which also has adverse effects on his business as a bus operator and owner.
“The courts also found that in all the nine incidents, he had no intention to reimburse the three complainants with any profits or whatsoever,” Hollison said.
Mabo had told the complainants that he had monies deposited in various institutions such as the CBSI, the British High Commission in Honiara and the Heritage Park Hotel.
Letters from these institutions were tendered by consent to the court during the trial, of which, they denied Mabo never had any money deposited in their respective institutions.
Mabo was married to a woman from the United Kingdom and they had two children.
In mitigation, it was revealed that his family had now abandoned him and now residing in the United Kingdom.
Hollison imposed a five-year prison term but later deducted one year to reflect the delay in this matter.
The four years jail term was ordered to start on 13 July 2020 when Mabo was convicted and remanded in custody.
The time Mabo spent in custody last year was also taken into account.
Rodney Manebosa of the Public Solicitor’s Office is representing Mabo while Public Prosecutor John Wesley Zoze prosecuted this matter.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN