Police: Fraudsters committing murder to inherit victim’s assets

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Supt Rishi Singh of the Homicide Bureau at a police briefing at Police Administration Building, Port of Spain on June 17. – Darren Bahaw

HOMICIDE officers have discovered a new trend in killings where victims are targeted for their inheritance, not just from loved ones but from strangers with help from officials at financial institutions.

Speaking at an award ceremony at the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port of Spain on Friday, Supt Rishi Singh assigned to the Homicide Bureau said his officers noticed instances of murder victims being killed for their inheritance and warned citizens to be vigilant.

At the award ceremony five officers were commended for their diligence in solving a murder case that took place in Tobago three years ago. In that killing the childhood friend of the Prime Minister, John Mills, 70, and his common-law wife Eulyn John, 61 were found dead by Mills’s nephew on May 2, 2019, at their Cocrico Avenue, Buccoo home. The couple had been strangled one day after Mills celebrated his birthday.

Two men Nicholas Davis, 28, of Sou Sou Lands, Tobago and Antonio Riykja McEachnie, 30, of Laventille, are charged with murdering the couple.

At the ceremony Singh said “I feel compelled to address the nation of a particular observation that we are now seeing and to help persons with a strategy that will make them less vulnerable. In this particular matter, what we observed was that a financial asset based in a particular institution was accessed by fraudulent means and that asset would have now become payable to an individual who would not have necessarily been connected to a particular person.”

He added that, in solving the murder, it was uncovered that fraud was committed resulting in the Fraud Squad playing an integral part in solving the case along with members of the Cold Case Unit and Homicide.

Speaking with Newsday after the award ceremony, Singh said these motives are not initially identified and only through intense investigation are police able to connect those dots. He said there are other matters with a similar motive being investigated but he did not want to disclose much given that they were still under investigation.

“The motives reveal themselves later on. There are other cases involving enrichment where there is a change in beneficiaries, fraudulently so. When the person dies, the fraudulent benefactor reaps the reward.”

At the award ceremony, Singh said, “You may very well, in the near future, see more matters that might come to bare in such circumstances. But, like we said before, this matter, like so many others, we would not comment on issues of evidence because we have to be responsible as the matter is before the court.

“We have a responsibility to the court and to the citizens generally. So we just needed persons to hear that, so that there’s another dimension of attentiveness that now you are required to pay to your own selves.”

For their diligence in detecting and investigating the crimes leading to charges, Snr Supt Arlet Groom of the Fraud Squad, Insp Ashley Mongroo of the Legal Unit, Sgt Sheldon Narine of Cold Case Unit and Insp Lorine Joefield and Sgt Jo-Ann Quashie-George of the Tobago Homicide Bureau were commended by acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob and Singh.

The officers were given a monetary reward as part of their commendation.

“What can citizens do to prevent themselves from becoming victims of their own wealth? The truth is that people pay attention to you whether you know it or not. From a fraud perspective and from any other situation where you have other crimes, people look at you – they assess your businesses to decide how vulnerable it is,” Singh said.

“Persons must be so alert even to infringements on their financial assets, to determine whether persons are trying to access them in other ways. That is something we want to put out there. It is something that requires individual attentiveness in relation to how wealth is secured and who is destined to access things a particular way. “

Singh said he did not want to divulge more on the particular case given that the matter is currently before the courts.

Jacob, before commending the officers, said the investigation was one of teamwork.

“We have our team approach; we call it T-I-A – team investigative approach – where we get all the various sections involved in our investigation. This matter is one that we were very successful in with a team approach. And we had several departments, persons in the analytical area to the Fraud Squad, Homicide and other departments.”

Jacob reminded citizens that the Cold Case Unit is active and is a crucial unit in the police service. He said police did not close serious-crimes cases and encouraged the public to partner with the police to solve crimes.

He added that there may be more cold cases solved with the use of technology as he mentioned the work done at the Forensic Science Centre and the Special Evidence Recovery Unit (SERU).

“Cold cases can be solved also by discovery of new evidence by our Cold Case Unit. Sometimes new witnesses come forward and, at times, because of change in relationships with persons who may be involved and maybe witnesses and obtained information, they will come forward. And one of the significant ones is sometimes social media.”

Singh said, this year, 18 cold cases have been solved including the double murder of the couple. He said, no matter how old a case might be, police are continuously engaged in the investigation with the aim of solving it.

“We could not have been successful if it weren’t for a genuine sense of purpose, and genuine drive that came together to culminate where we are today. We are very, very positive that having crossed this threshold and the manner in which we have, we need to acknowledge the good and excellent work that was done.”

Singh thanked the public for their assistance saying that the Homicide Bureau noticed a shift in the attitude by citizens towards his officers in their investigations. He said this growing partnership encourages the officers to continue their work in continuing to solve murders.