Credit card skimmers sentenced

Two men were sentenced this week
for their part in a credit card scam in which they bilked thousands of dollars
from unsuspecting cardholders.

Patrick Virgo, 33, and Marc
Thompson, 22, were sentenced by Magistrate Nova Hall in Summary Court on 26
July after they both had pleaded guilty. They were involved in a scheme known
as skimming, in which credit card numbers were stolen from at least 21 people,
with charges totalling around $40,000.

However, the Crown accepted pleas
that represented just a little over $2,000.

Virgo was sentenced to six months
in prison and ordered to be deported to Jamaica upon his release. His time
spent in custody will be discounted.

Thompson received two months’
imprisonment, which was suspended for two years, in addition to being ordered
to pay $2,000 or serve 30 days in prison.

In mitigating on behalf of his
client, attorney Keith Collins said Virgo worked as an audio visual manager in
Grand Cayman during the time of the offences. He said his client is married and
the father of three children, who are dependent on him. He also said that Virgo
had only benefited from a little over $2,000 and had pleaded to the offences,
to that extent, to which the Crown agreed.

“The best mitigation is a guilty
plea,” said Mr. Collins. He said Virgo also assisted police with the
investigation and helped make officers more attuned to credit card crimes as a
result of his input.

Virgo also supplied police with the
skimming machine that he had given to Thompson while the latter was working at
a local pub.

Mr. Collins told the court that
Virgo told police how banks could help their customers avoid being taken
advantage of in the future by educating them. The attorney said much of the
information taken directly from Virgo’s interview with police was later
televised by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service as tips on how to avoid
being victimized by credit card fraud.

According to the Social Inquiry
Report on Virgo, the defendant was motivated by an urge to beat the system, as
opposed to trying to benefit financially. His attorney noted that Virgo had a
good job and thus there was little incentive for financial gain.

However, the report said that with
“beating the system” as an underlying factor for Virgo’s crimes, the likelihood
of his re-offending was high.

Mr. Collins said he disagreed with
this aspect of the report and reminded Magistrate Hall that Virgo had lost

In mitigating on behalf of Thompson,
attorney Lucy Organ said the men should be treated differently, as her client
was only 22 and was the lesser player.

She said Thompson was given the
skimming machine by Virgo and the only benefit her client received was $500 for
supplying information about various cards at $50 per card. She added that he
made full admission of his wrongdoing when confronted.

Ms Organ said Thompson told police
about Virgo, leading to Virgo’s subsequent arrest.

Further, she said, Thompson is
Caymanian and lost his employment as a result of the crime. Thompson is also
expecting a child and planning to relocate to Brazil with his pregnant
girlfriend, according to Ms Organ.

She asked for a suspended sentence
after handing up three character references and telling the magistrate that
Thompson had withdrawn from his previous associations.

In sentencing the men, Magistrate
Hall said she did not think they should be dealt with differently, as one
needed the other. She said one cannot blame the folly of youth for crime, adding
that Thompson had advantages that many other youngsters did not have.

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  1. Having your credit card information stolen is a violation against not only the bank but also the card holder. This personal violation causes problems beyond the loss of funds, it also undermines trust in our society. Yet another factor eroding our social fabric.

  2. A suspended sentence and $2,000 fine is not even a slap on the wrist. How are we supposed to deter criminal enterprise if we keep letting criminals to free????????

    Editor’s note: This comment had to be edited for legal reasons.

  3. Once again, we see where the legal system let us down. Only high fines and stiffer penalties, including mandatory jail time, will stop people from committing these crimes. A $2,000 fine!!! What a JOKE!!!! Any idiot knows that a $2,000 fine is worth the risk when you are looking at making THOUSANDS on skimming credit cards. Here, they got $40,000. Many times it’s much more. It’s a no-brainer — to a criminal, it’s worth the risk. $2,000 is NO deterrent, who are they kidding. Why waste everyones time.

    Editor’s note: This comment has been edited for legal reasons.