Fake landlord jailed for eight years over €21,000 fraud

Police Inspector Matthew Vella charged Alexia Micallef with 26 counts of fraud, as well as recidivism and breaching the conditions of a suspended sentence. The woman claims she had committed the crimes to pay off a debt owed to usurers

Alexia Micallef
Alexia Micallef

A woman, 38, has been jailed for eight years after she admitted to a 26 counts of fraud, having collected an estimated €21,000 in rent deposits on flats which she was engaged to clean, while pretending to be the owner.

Alexia Micallef has a number of previous convictions. She was identified on Facebook yesterday as a number of victims claimed to have been fleeced of their rental deposits.

This afternoon, Police Inspector Matthew Vella charged the woman with 26 counts of fraud, as well as recidivism and breaching the conditions of a suspended sentence.

Several media outlets had picked up the story after MaltaToday reported that the woman had been arrested late yesterday afternoon, spurring more of the woman’s alleged victims to contact the police.

The woman was arrested yesterday evening, amidst growing public outcry.

Her 26 individual victims, a mix of Maltese and foreign nationals, were duped into giving deposits of around €800 each by the woman, who is believed to have abused her position as a cleaner by using house keys entrusted to her for cleaning services to show the unsuspecting prospective tenants around.

She would then collect a deposit, before telling the victims that the flat was being repaired and that they could not move in.

In court today, legal aid lawyer Noel Bartolo told magistrate Francesco Depasquale that the woman, a mother of two, had been the victim of usury and the only way she could save her life was by coming up with this scheme.

“She is a victim twice over,” he said, because Micallef had extricated herself from the usury debt thanks to the deposits but now had to face criminal justice for doing so. He asked the court to bear this in mind when handing down punishment.

Inspector Vella acknowledged that the woman had committed the crimes as a result of the circumstances in which she found herself. The woman had also passed on all the information, documents and money she has in connection with the charges to the police, he said.

The court, however, noted that the woman had previously been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for four in 2013 on charges with included fraud.

Finding the accused guilty of all the charges against her, the court condemned Micallef to eight years imprisonment.

The magistrate invited the prison authorities to give Micallef the assistance she required so that this type of offence is not repeated.

Turning to the tearful accused, the magistrate rebuked her for her actions. “Mrs. Micallef, I can’t say that you did not do something wrong... what is more worrying to me is that you had already been given a warning and chose to ignore it. Now you are going to miss your children growing up.

“You should have gone to the authorities...the message I want to give is that if you have a problem with usurers, go to the police don’t try to solve it yourselves.”

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