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Scam artist given probation for defrauding man of life savings

A 'black money' scam artist has been placed on probation after he was convicted of defrauding a man of his life savings

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
11 August 2017, 3:16pm
Michael Camilleri made headlines in 2012 after it emerged that in a plan to duplicate some €200,000 illicitly, he had made off with €140,500 belonging to his accomplice
Michael Camilleri made headlines in 2012 after it emerged that in a plan to duplicate some €200,000 illicitly, he had made off with €140,500 belonging to his accomplice
A “black money” scam artist has been placed on probation after he was convicted of defrauding a man of his life savings.

In 2012, Michael Camilleri, 34, was arrested after scam victim Paul Mangion told the police that Camilleri had run off with €140,500 of his, after the two had agreed to falsify €200,000 in cash by putting banknote-sized papers in between notes of legal tender and pouring a special dye over it.

Camilleri was charged with fraud, criminal conspiracy to commit a crime punishable by over four years' imprisonment, committing a crime while serving a suspended sentence and being in breach of probation.

​Mangion had gone to the Birzebbugia police station on 27 May 2012 and filed a report claiming to have been defrauded of €140,500. Mangion had explained to the police that a man who ran a flea market stall put him in touch with a person “who knows how to falsify money.”

Camilleri had later contacted Mangion and asked him for €200,000. He claimed to be in possession of black paper and a certain chemical, that when mixed together with real money could be used to create fake doubles – a textbook black money scam.

The arrangement was that Camilleri would take the €200,000, while Mangion's cash would be returned together with a €1,000 commission.

However, Mangion was only able to withdraw was €140,000, together with €500 which he had just obtained after selling a car. Camilleri agreed to provide the remaining €60,000.

The two men had made their way to Mangion’s garage, where Camilleri and an unidentified accomplice began the dyeing process. Mangion said that the accused and his assistant had then left the garage with a holdall, after telling told Mangion not to open the foil wrapped cash bundle in the garage because this would interfered with the duplication process.

They had agreed to meet the next day, Mangion told the court. But when Camilleri did not turn up, Mangion had tried to call him and found that his first mobile phone number was offline. The second number was answered by a woman who informed Mangion that Camilleri had been arrested and was at the police headquarters in lock up.

Mangion went back to his garage to open up foil package and to his horror, found only the black paper.

After analysing the legal elements of the crimes of theft and fraud, the court found Camilleri guilty of fraud, noting that it had been proven beyond doubt that the accused was aware of the impossibility of what he was promising the victim. He was cleared of the theft charge.

The court heard Camilleri's probation officer explain that the man had struggled to deal with the death of his brother which occurred when the accused was just 14 and that he was in the process of reform. Camilleri was now in a committed relationship, caring for four children, the officer reported.

Magistrate Joe Mifsud placed the man on probation for four years, ordering him to undergo drug rehab and imposing a three-year treatment order.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.

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