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Apr 13, 2006

Duo charged for credit card fraud in free zone

We have carried numerous reports on this newscast concerning official efforts to crack down on the circulation of counterfeit currency. But while the Police Department is still trying to deal with bogus cash, advances in technology have forced them to embark on another initiative: curtailing credit card fraud. According to a police press release, reports of this electronic crime have been increasing, especially in the Corozal Free Zone. The latest incident occurred on April seventh in which Lisbeth Chi, a cashier at a business in the zone, reported to police that two men came into the store and after buying almost two thousand U.S. dollars worth of goods, handed her a Mexican bank credit card for payment. But Chi became suspicious when she swiped the plastic and asked a local bank agent to check it out. The bank confirmed that the card was a phoney. Police apprehended the Mexican nationals, identified as twenty-three year old Juan Bautista and twenty-five year old Freddy Canul and charged them with possession of a forged document, uttering a false document, and obtaining property by deception. Canul and Bautista appeared in Corozal Magistrate’s Court where Canul pled not guilty and was remanded to prison until his next court date on May eighteenth. As for his partner in crime, Bautista pled guilty and was fined three thousand dollars plus ten dollars court costs. He paid the money immediately and presumably returned across the border.

Last week Police Commissioner Gerald Westby met with representatives of the banking and business community in the free zone. The group came up with a five-point plan of action which includes amending legislation to make jail time mandatory for persons convicted of counterfeiting or credit card fraud.

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