In Grand Court last week, Ortilio
Reyes-Santiago became the first person sentenced under the Proceeds of Crime
Law for transferring illegally obtained phone credits to others.
He was sentenced to six months
imprisonment and ordered to pay $1,080 to LIME (Cable and Wireless) or serve
another 30 days.
Reyes, who required a
Spanish-speaking interpreter, pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property
by using the Peer to Peer – P2P — feature of his cell phone to transfer
unlawfully obtained phone credits.
Crown Counsel John Masters
explained that the charge against Reyes of transferring criminal property was
brought under the Proceeds of Crime Law, passed in 2008.
The phone credits he obtained were
criminal property because he unlawfully used skimmed or stolen credit card
information to purchase them. The transfer of the criminal property occurred
when Reyes sold or gave the illegally-obtained phone credits to other people.
In setting out the facts before Justice
Charles Quin, Mr. Masters said although the amount of money involved was relatively
low, there were aggravating features to the offence.
First, because it involved the use
of credit card information, the card holders, all of whom resided in the US, could have
had their credit affected.
Second, the offence had an
international flavour. “The defendant came to Cayman as a visitor and committed
what amounted to a transnational crime,” Mr. Masters said.
Third, Cayman is a financial
jurisdiction and Reyes was willing to sully Cayman’s reputation. “Both offenders
and the world at large must be warned that the Cayman Islands
takes such offences seriously and that this will not be a haven for such
criminal activity,” he declared.
Reyes’ criminal activity in Cayman took
place in April 2009. In May, a senior employee of Cable & Wireless met with
officers of the Financial Crimes Unit, reporting that the company had received
a number of credit card charges from a bank on Island.
Analysis of the charges indicated that the company had been defrauded by a
person or persons unknown who had purchased cell phone credits with certain
credit card information.
Detective Richard Clarke met with
LIME representatives and was given the cell phone number for which all the
credits were purchased.
It was determined that the credits had been purchased
overseas with the local phone and Reyes was then transferring that credit to
others for a fee or commission. The benefit to the purchaser was a discount or
Mr. Masters said further inquiries revealed
that the credit card details used had been obtained by dishonest means.
When Reyes returned to Cayman in December,
he was arrested. He was found to be carrying a notebook with credit card information
and 17 SIM cards belonging to a number of cell phone providers around the
Mr. Masters praised Cayman’s
Financial Crimes Unit.
“This is an example of police acting in a
fashion superior to many forces around the world,” he told the court.
Reyes, 49, came to Cayman in April
2009 as a visitor for six weeks. A resident of Barcelona,
Spain, he had travelled here
via the Dominican Republic
He left the Island and then returned on 3 December.
Defence Attorney Ben Tonner said Reyes
carried 17 SIM cards because he used different cards in different parts of the
world – whichever was cheaper.
He accepted that the offence had an
international element, but it was not a sophisticated network for transfer of
funds. He suggested it was more like simple dishonesty and could have been
charged as theft.
Mr. Masters disagreed, earlier referring
to it as a money laundering offence. He advised the court that this was the
first case brought to the Grand Court under the Proceeds of Crime Law. He urged
Justice Charles Quin to consider setting guideline tariffs for future such
The judge adjourned sentencing until 6 April
so he could consider the various authorities submitted to him.
In imposing the sentence, he took
into account the guilty plea, which saved authorities and the court
considerable time and expense.
Although Mr. Tonner had argued
against compensation – on the basis that Reyes did not have the money to pay
back — Justice Quin found no good reason why he should not pay it back.