Several Berbicians – as well as a blind man from Essequibo – have been swindled by a woman who has been telling her victims that she is underprivileged in order to gain help and financial assistance.
Stabroek News understands that the woman would relate tales of distress to members of the public and solicit money among other items. It has also been reported that the woman would scam persons who are desirous of adopting children.
The swindler’s latest victim is Mohammed Hakeem, 88, of Essequibo. Stabroek News was told that the woman disguised herself as a Muslim sister, went to the mosque at Cotton Tree, Berbice and indicated to a male worshipper that she would take care of Hakeem after she overheard that the visually impaired man was looking for someone to take care of him. She, however, brought Hakeem from West Coast Berbice to the Corentyne and robbed him of $100,000.
Hakeem recounted to Stabroek News that on Saturday, he was at the Cotton Tree mosque and asked a worshipper if he could take care of him since he is homeless. Subsequent to the request, Hakeem said, he heard a woman telling the man whom he was speaking to, that she would take care of him (Hakeem). “Brother I would take care of this old man,” he recalled her saying. She then told him: “Me gon mind yuh old man. Me na want your money,” he said. The pensioner indicated that until he heard her voice, he did not realise a woman was around at the time.
Hakeem said that he and the woman subsequently caught a bus and headed to the Corentyne. Whilst they were in the bus, the woman collected the bag with money from him and kept it throughout the journey, he said.
The pensioner recalled that when they arrived at Chesney Front, Corentyne, the village where the woman reportedly lives, the gates were closed. “I felt the gates and it was closed,” he said while adding that the woman told him that her children have the keys and they had to go to the mosque at Port Mourant to collect it.
Hakeem told reporters that when they entered the vehicle to go and collect the keys, the woman told him that she was in the front seat and had his bag. “Well me deh in the back seat and when she tell me she deh in the front seat me said okay. I am totally blind I can’t see anything,” he said.
The woman reportedly then came out of the car and escaped with the bag.
The blind man stated that he did not know when the woman came out of the vehicle. He only learnt that she was not there when the driver indicated to him that he was in Skeldon. The man explained that he got a bit confused and “meh had to beg the driver to bring me back to Belvedere because me na know what to do. I had to tell him that meh blind for him to bring me back.” The taxi driver transported Hakeem to the Belvedere mosque where he related the story to the members and where he is currently being accommodated.
Hakeem said that for the past ten years he has been visiting Berbice during Ramadan to collect his zakat. He stated that he lost his family some years ago after an electrical transformer fell on his house and electrocuted his wife and children.
Members of the Muslim community in Berbice are asking person with any information about the woman to contact them on telephone numbers 322 0227 or 3099 or the nearest police station. A report has been made to the police and investigations have commenced.