A 42-year-old retired major from Colombian Army was today refused bail in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court after being accused of stealing over $1.8 million by using fake ATM Cards from the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) .Freddy Riveria Vargas, who has six other similar matters before the court since July, was yesterday charged with 12 counts of simple larceny when he was brought before Magistrate Judy Latchman.
The charges detailed that on July 17, while in Lethem, Rupununi, he stole $120,000 from the GBTI bank branch there and further withdrew $230,000 later.
The following day on July 18 at the Bank’s Water Street branch in Georgetown, he withdrew $90, 000. The very next day, he withdrew the total sum of $430,000 cash from the same Water Street ATMs using the fake cards.
The same day, it is alleged, he traveled to Providence, East Bank Demerara, where he withdrew $160, 000 from Bank’s ATM machines there. The same day, it is alleged that he travelled to the Bank’s Vreed-en-hoop Branch and stole $60,000.
Then on Monday, July 20, at Providence he stole $160,000 cash from the GBTI while he also scammed the GBTI branch at the Ashmin’s Mall on High Street $90,000.
This spree of bank robberies continued on July 21 when $360,000 and $140,000 were taken respectively from the GBTI branch in Bagotstown and Water Street branch, Police claimed.
Attorney-at-law Ms. Latchmie Rahamat, in association with attorney Mr. Peter Hugh, represented the defendant. She explained that her client was visiting Guyana, but was arrested at the Princess Hotel. She added that Vargas is married, has two children, and was visiting Guyana for the first time
Rahamat asked the court to consider placing the Colombian on reasonable bail on ground that the offence is bailable.
The lawyer further revealed that Vargas, has pending matter before Magistrate Ann McLennan, who had approved bail, but he could not afford the amount.
However, Inspector Vishnu Hunt objected to the granting of bail because the Colombian national has no ties to Guyana, and is deemed a flight risk.
The Prosecutor indicated that the defendant, is currently being fingered in more GBTI ATM scams across Guyana and those charges are likely to be laid in addition to his six pending matters before Magistrate McLennan and the 12- charge now instituted.
After considering both the defence and prosecution arguments, the magistrate refused the accused bail and adjourned the matter to September 25.
According to report camera attached to the bank branches had captured the image of a person who was identified as the defendant. On the day of his arrest, July 21, the Colombian was seen by a security guard about to make another withdrawal, and the police was present on scene. He was found with other ATM cards in his possession at the time of his arrest.