Man scams job seekers out of $1 million

June 16, 2022

A man who skimmed $1 million from unsuspecting individuals, under the guise that he could secure overseas employment for them, was sentenced to two years in prison at hard labour.

Senior Parish Judge Lori-Anne Cole-Montaque on Tuesday chided the defendant, Nicalus Bryce, when he appeared in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court to be sentenced on 21 counts of obtaining money by means of false pretence and eight counts of operating an overseas job agency without a licence.

"What you have done is you have taken advantage of poor, vulnerable persons in this society, especially against the backdrop that we are operating within a pandemic. But what a lot of persons fail to pay attention to is the sacrifices that are made by persons. A lot of persons have to borrow, they have to beg it and there are some persons who demean themselves, they swallow pride to get it with the hopes of a better life," the judge said.

In one instance, a complainant told Bryce that she was seeking a job as a waitress and he told her she should pay a registration fee of $9,000 and was later given a receipt. On March 17, 2021, the complainant said she was instructed to pay $11,500 for a COVID test, which she did, and was also given a receipt by Bryce. On another occasion, the complainant visited the agency's office at Molynes Road and handed over her documents, and was told to pay $40,000 to secure a work permit. She was given a receipt and was told her application would be processed.

However, when she started experiencing problems with getting a work permit, she asked Bryce for a refund. The matter was reported to the police after he failed to pay over the money.

"So, when I consider the sentence that is to be passed, it must be a sentence that sends the right message," the senior jurist indicated.

On each count of obtaining money by means of false pretence, the 29-year-old was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment at hard labour. In relation to the counts of operating an overseas job agency without a licence, Bryce was sentenced to six months' imprisonment at hard labour.

The sentences are to run consecutively. She also made a restitution order, that Bryce is to repay $1.4 million to the complainants.

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