Man sentenced to over three years after tricking people in motor vehicle sale scam

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A man was on Tuesday in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment for defrauding 17 people of over $10 million in a motor vehicle sale scam.

The man, Renford Soares, was charged with obtaining money by false pretence, fraudulent conversion, absconding bail, and larceny by trick. He pleaded guilty to the charges on February 8, 2022, after initially pleading not guilty in 2021.

For the 11 counts of obtaining money by false pretence, Soares was sentenced to two years imprisonment at hard labour. He was also sentenced to one year imprisonment at hard labour for the charge of larceny by trick, which is to run consecutively to the charge of obtaining money by false pretence.

For the charge of absconding bail, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment at hard labour, which is to run consecutively with the larceny by trick charge. Soares also was given another two year imprisonment at hard labour for the charge of fraudulent conversion, which is to concurrently with the offence of obtaining money by false pretence.

He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

The court was also made aware that Soares had previous convictions of the same nature in excess of 50 cases. This detail, OBSERVER ONLINE understands is the reason the prosecution had requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to transfer the matter to the Supreme Court, which has greater authority to impose a higher sentence. However, on Tuesday, the court was told that the directive from that office is to have the matter completed at the parish level.

According to court documents, Soares’ modus operandi was to convince his victims that he has vehicles they can purchase, and after receiving the money, the complainants would not receive the vehicles.

In one instance, between January 10 and 18, 2017, Soares told a man that he was a customs officer of the Jamaica Customs Agency, and he offered the complainant to sell him two vehicles. The complainant reportedly paid $810,000 to Soares, but didn’t receive the vehicles.

The vehicles he propositioned, the court was told, were a Toyota Mark X, Nissan AD Wagon, Toyota Axio, and a Toyota Probox, ranging from the year 2012 to 2018.

He was reportedly apprehended in 2021 and gave the police a fictitious name.

On the charge of absconding bail, Soares was required to attend court on October 21, 2021, but did not attend. A warrant was ordered and stayed until December 3, 2021; then the warrant was ordered for his arrest on that day.

His attorney-at-law attempted to plead for leniency on his behalf, but ended up agreeing with Senior Parish Judge, Lori-Ann Cole Montague, that the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating factors in the case.

“I know that this court heard from my client as it relates to restitution, and it was clearly stated in court that Mr Soares is not in a position to make restitution. Which will be one of those aggravating factors,” the attorney said, before proceeding to tell the judge that his client’s fate was in her hands.

Soares has other matters that were not dealt with on Tuesday; he is set to return to court on December 14 for those cases to be mentioned.

BY CANDICE HAUGHTON , Observer Online Reporter haughtonc@jamaicaobserver.com

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