Chilean 'investor' Alberto Chang Rajii in court again accused of credit card fraud

Alberto Chang Rajii arraigned on fraud charges 

Alberto Chang Rajii (middle) after his arraignment in 2016(Photo: MaltaToday)
Alberto Chang Rajii (middle) after his arraignment in 2016(Photo: MaltaToday)

The long arm of the law would appear to have once again caught up with Chilean Alberto Chang Rajii, who was arraigned on Friday on fraud charges.

The charges come six years after the Maltese courts had conclusively rejected a request for his extradition to Chile, where he faces further - and more serious - accusations of tax evasion and of having committed multi-million dollar fraud through a Ponzi scheme.

MaltaToday is informed that the police had been asked to investigate after Chang Rajii’s Maltese victim received an instant notification on his mobile phone about a transfer of over €500 from a hotel in which he was not present.

Police officers had made enquiries with the hotel, and were told that the transaction had been made by the defendant. A virtual credit card with the same number as that of the victim is understood to have been found, saved on Chang Rajii’s phone.
As the police investigation progressed, a substantial number of other suspicious transactions are understood to have been discovered, together with a report of fraud from another hotel in 2022. 

In court on Friday, while duty magistrate Abigail Critien settled the preliminaries and checked the relevant paperwork at the start of his arraignment, Chang Rajii was noted to speak at length with a man who later identified himself to the court as the Chilean Consul.

The 50-year-old defendant told the court that he was currently residing in St. Julians, Malta. When the registrar asked him to state his occupation, he replied “I’m currently retired. I was a financial investor.”

Police Inspectors Daryl Farr and Nico Zarb, assisted by prosecutor Claire Sammut from the Office of the Attorney General, charged Chang Rajii with having defrauded a hotel out of over €5,000 and making a fraudulent gain of a similar magnitude, two years ago.

He was also charged with having, in the years and months before then, fraudulently taken an amount in excess of €5,000 from a Maltese businessman who had helped Chang Rajii after his last appearance in court.

The “retired investor” was further charged with aggravated theft, with having been found in possession of items used for fraud and with fraudulently using a counterfeit “non-corporeal non-cash payment instrument,” which is understood to be a cloned copy of the victim’s credit card.

Lawyer Ilona Schembri was appointed to assist Chang Raji as legal aid counsel. The defence lawyer did not contest the validity of the arrest. Chang Rajii said “not guilty,” when asked to enter a plea.

Chang Rajii’s lawyer informed the court that the defence would not be asking for bail at this stage of proceedings. “He doesn’t have a fixed address, he’s a foreigner and has no money,” she told the magistrate. “I don’t think bail would be granted in this situation, so I don’t want to waste the court’s time.”