Women admit being ‘pawns’ in internet banking scams – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Women admit being ‘pawns’ in internet banking scams

Two women admitted being “pawns” in separate internet banking scams that cost victims thousands of dollars.

Julie Burchall, 58, pleaded guilty to a single count of money laundering, while Shirley-Ann Pearman, also 58, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a wrongful credit when they appeared in the Supreme Court yesterday.

In both cases, fraudsters pretended to be Microsoft staff to convince the victims to give them access to their computers and bank accounts before they raided the victims’ savings.

The court heard that on August 3, 2016, the first victim was contacted by a woman with an East Indian accent who said that her computer was rife with computer viruses.

The caller said they could remedy the issue at a cost of $300, and the victim gave the conman total access to her computer, along with her debit card information to pay for the service.

However, as soon as the interaction had ended, the victim became concerned about the incident and contacted her bank to halt any transactions.

Later that evening, she discovered that $12,500 had been withdrawn from her account, leaving it overdrawn.

She contacted her bank, which said the money had been transferred to the account of Burchall.

Burchall, from Warwick, later admitted that she had allowed her account to be used to receive the funds in exchange for $500.

The other $12,000 was withdrawn from her account on August 4 and she said the funds were given to another woman.

Alan Richards, for the Crown, said that while Burchall was not the mastermind of the scheme, she did play a crucial role in the scam.

However, Charles Richardson, for Burchall, said his client was also a victim of the scam and that she had paid back all of the money she had received.

He said: “Some people find it easier in the moment to just roll with it so she could get them off her back than to raise the alarm and suffer the embarrassment.”

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons noted that Burchall had no previous offences, made restitution and was not likely to commit further offences.

In the circumstances, she gave Burchall a six-month conditional discharge.

In the case of Pearman, the court heard that the victim was contacted by someone who claimed to be a Microsoft employee on March 3, 2016.

The caller advised her to download an app called “Teamviewer”, which she used to gain control over her computer.

The caller then told the victim to use the computer to check her bank accounts to confirm that they had not been tampered with.

The victim later checked her bank account again, only to discover that $5,350 had been transferred to an account owned by Pearman.

The victim contacted Pearman, who said she would make sure the money was returned. However, the court heard the money had already been transferred out of her account.

Police later searched Pearman’s computers and found a sheet of paper with the words “Teamviewer” written on it.

Elizabeth Christopher, counsel for Pearman, said that her client was a “pawn” who had been played by the conmen without her knowledge.

She added that her client had attempted to send the money back to the victim, but the funds had already been taken and her account had been frozen.

Mrs Justice Simmons accepted that Pearman had been “duped” and in the circumstances an absolute discharge was appropriate.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.