The Cuban Police dismantle two million-dollar scams in Santa Clara

The Cuban Police dismantle two million-dollar scams in Santa Clara

HAVANA, May 14  The Santa Clara Police announced in the last few hours their intervention in two scams valued at more than 17 million pesos.Most of that sum corresponded to a shipment of Cristal beer for an approximate amount of 15 million, which was partially recovered.

The agents carried out two operations that they reported to the official press, during a crusade to “confront crime.” In one of them, the Police of the main city had information that a sale had been arranged for more than 20 pallets coming from the west of the Island.

“Once the person who owns the merchandise arrives in Santa Clara, he goes to the home of the person who finally ended up scamming,” said Lieutenant Colonel Héctor de la Fe Freire in an interview with the official Villa Clara radio station CMHW.

According to the agent’s account, the scammer gave some of the money to the seller, agreeing to give him the rest at a later appointment. However, he never returned. Each beer was purchased for a value of 215 pesos and was sold for 225, which puts the global amount at 15 million. The alleged perpetrator is detained and will be charged with fraud.

In the other operation, according to the officer, a “well-organized” scam was dismantled by those responsible on social networks, where they established contacts to purchase large quantities of food products from self-employed workers.

After a first contact, the sellers went to a home in Santa Clara to deliver the merchandise and receive – as in the previous case – part of the sum of money, agreeing to a second payment at another address. In that first delivery, the scammers showed 1,000 peso bills, beneath which there were a large number of others worth just 1 peso.

However, once the sellers went to get the rest of the money, the buyers took the merchandise elsewhere. According to the Police, they left the place (and the merchandise) to receive full payment in another location, and the products were quickly extracted by an organized group that disappeared them.

The scammers, including the ringleader, the owner of the home and those responsible for moving the merchandise, are between 21 and 47 years old and are detained, also facing fraud charges.

“In the case of the main author who organizes and structures this crime, he is a repeat offender. “He participated in the other events with similar characteristics and modus operandi and the investigations allowed us to recover part of the merchandise and return it to its legitimate owner,” the officer added.

Among what was seized, were 50 boxes of condensed milk, 21 boxes of imported cookies and 2,314,080 pesos.

In the interview, De la Fe Freire took the opportunity to warn about an issue that worries the authorities more than boxes of cookies: the sale and purchase of foreign currency in the illegal market.

“Once again we reiterate the theme (…). People, without knowing their identity, only with a profile on social networks, are agreeing to entrust their merchandise, to go to places that do not have the minimum conditions necessary to establish a business agreement.

“Let them make sure, to prevent them from being scammed again,” he told official journalist Abel Falcón.

The news has been spread, as has happened in recent times, on government-friendly channels on social networks created in order to maintain control of information about events and convey to society that these crimes do not go unpunished.

This is the case of Fuerza del Pueblo, in Villa Clara, where users have congratulated the Police and asked that “the full weight of the law” be brought to bear on the scammers. In this profile, a commenter has warned – in response to another user who demanded “exemplary trials” – of the risk of publishing names and photographs of the alleged culprits.

“What more exemplary judgment than this page, which publishes people’s photos and exposes them in front of the entire town without the consent of those people, thus also committing a crime? Because that’s illegal.

Furthermore, in many cases, we see those same people a few days later on the street because the information was not as it had been published. It is not doing the right thing, but doing it correctly,” she reasoned.

These petty crimes, as well as the “fight against corruption,” are among the favorite topics of these pages on social networks, but also of the official press, in a different tone.

This Tuesday, Escambray, the official newspaper of Sancti Spíritus, publishes an interview with Jesús Gerardo Martín Casanova, chief comptroller of the province, in which the official admits that “on many occasions, internal control is lacking in companies and entities in the territory, while in other cases the system implemented is not effective.”

“The total number of acts of corruption in 2023 behaved in line with the historical average of the province, which is around 15 cases per year; most of them, with their epicenter in the Commerce and Gastronomy sector,” he reveals. These facts are due, he affirms, to the shortcomings of the people and inflation, although an alleged “lack of values” also comes to light.

Furthermore, he insists that labor shortages do not help control corporate mismanagement. “The audit system in the province is deteriorated. “We have less than 50% of the auditors you need.”