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ARMS call centre con artist took €15,000 from clients ‘to hide' bills

Inspector Xuereb explained to the court that the woman had conned six families out of a total of €15,007

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
27 July 2017, 1:43pm
A woman who pocketed just over €15,000 in utility bill payments, while pretending to help customers, has been given six months to repay her victims as well as being handed a suspended prison sentence.

Charmaine Camilleri, 41, from Marsaskala had been employed by Centrecomp, a subcontractor who handles customer care for ARMS Ltd. 

Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb explained how the woman had taken phone calls from a number of clients who were complaining about high utility bills.

Camilleri had told the callers that she couldn’t help them “because calls are being recorded,” only to call them up from her personal mobile phone after the call ended.

During that call she would then offer to “hide” part of the bill from the system, in exchange for money. She had also sold two clients a device, claiming that it would reduce their bills by 30%. But when the clients had continued to receive high bills and noticed that the balance had not changed, the police were informed.

 Inspector Xuereb explained to the court that the woman had conned six families out of a total of €15,007.

The woman, who is now unemployed, pleaded guilty before magistrate Monica Vella this afternoon.

“I can’t lie about something that I’ve done,” she said when asked whether she was aware of the potential penalty she faced.

The court handed the woman a two-year prison sentence, suspended for four years and ordered her to refund the amount within six months or the amount would be converted to jail time.

The court turned down a request for a ban on the publication of the woman's name. Among the reasons for this was the fact that there may be more victims who are yet to come forward.

Lawyer Benjamin Valenzia was legal aid.

Enemalta statement

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Enemalta said that after assistance was requested by a "small number of customers", it had collaborated with the Police to investigate the allegations of misappropriation of customers' funds. 

"The company took immediate action as soon as it was informed that an unauthorised person had allegedly defrauded customers by requesting money to settle their utility bills. Details of the person involved and all information received were immediately passed on to the Police for further investigations. The person allegedly involved, who was arraigned in court today, is not an employee of Enemalta plc, of the Water Services Corporation or of their subsidiary company Automated Revenue Management Services (ARMS) Ltd.," read the statement by Enemalta.

It also said that allegations that the same person involved was offering a device that could affect meter readings proved false following investigations.

Finally, the company said it was "encouraging" customers to pay their utility bills through authorised channels only, as clearly indicated in the information given on each bill they receive.

Customers with information about the case or any other irregularity are also being advised to contact the company’s customer care team on 80072224 or [email protected], or to submit information anonymously through the company website.

 

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...