Woman accused of $27,000 permanent residency scam

A woman helped con expatriates out of more than $27,000 by pretending the cash was required for legitimate permanent residency applications, Crown prosecutors alleged in Grand Court Thursday. 

Marcia Hamilton told some of the victims of the scam that the money was for a legitimate scheme, organized by then-Premier McKeeva Bush. 

No such scheme existed and none of the victims, who handed over $2,500 each, were ever granted residency, Crown counsel Toyin Salako told the court. 

Ms. Hamilton had denied eight counts of obtaining property by deception between September 2009 and April 2010. 

She is alleged to have worked with Judith Douglas, who has already entered guilty pleas to several related charges. 

Sometimes Ms. Hamilton recruited people to provide cash and residency applications to Ms. Douglas, on other occasions she took the cash herself and provided receipts signed by Ms. Douglas, the prosecution claims. 

When some of the victims began to realize they had been conned, both women’s cellphones were suddenly “no longer in service,” Ms. Salako said. 

Neither of the women, or a third accomplice who has since fled Cayman, worked for the Immigration Department and they had no authorization to collect money for residency applications, she said. 

Ms. Hamilton told the victims if they handed over the cash with application forms, they would get permanent residence status. 

“It was not a question that this was the application fee. They were told that by paying this money, they were guaranteed permanent residency,” the prosecutor said. 

Ms. Hamilton is alleged to have told some of her victims that she was collecting names and application fees as part of a scheme organized by McKeeva Bush to grant residency to between 50 and 100 long-standing residents. 

In a meeting with three women, outlined by the prosecution, she is said to have told them that former Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts had turned down 6,000 applications and Mr. Bush was trying to redress the balance. 

On other occasions, she told individuals interested in the scheme, that it was part of a legitimate application process, but they needed to pay the $2,500 fee immediately to make the deadline. 

Ms. Salako said the Premier’s Office had confirmed, “it did not authorize anyone to collect funds on behalf of the Immigration Department and there was never any initiative being offered for PR for $2,500.” 

Ms. Hamilton is facing a trial by judge alone, meaning there is no jury, in front of Justice Charles Quin.