Witnesses recount how life savings were wiped away by fraudulent detergents scheme

Witnesses recount how life savings were wiped away by fraudulent detergents scheme

Several members of the same family told a court on Monday how their life savings had practically disappeared after they were encouraged to invest in a detergent business which turned out to be a scam. 

Tania Borg, 35, of Attard, an unemployed mother of three, has been under preventive arrest since her arraignment in January, accused of defrauded several people of a total of some €100,000. 

“I’m a family man living on a working wage. This woman has wrecked my family,” one witness claimed, recalling how he had entrusted some €3,000 into the accused’s hands after learning that other members of his family had done likewise.

READ: Bubble bursts on scam detergent scheme

The man explained how one day Tania Borg had turned up at his Sliema workplace and accompanied him to a nearby bank where he withdrew the funds and handed them over to her. However, the promised profits never materialised and the victim was left high and dry.

The man’s partner likewise told Magistrate Doreen Clarke how she had been lured into the fraudulent scheme just like her elderly father and sister.

The woman explained how last summer she had withdrawn €10,000 invested in shares and handed the relative cheque to Ms Borg who was a former colleague of her sister. Out of that sum the victim only managed to recover €3,000.

Moreover, on a separate occasion, the accused had begged for money which she allegedly needed for her daughter’s baptism party. The witness had complied, handing over another €1,000.

This baptism party was commented upon by another witness, who explained how she had been invited to the gathering which had been held at an upmarket Sliema hotel. The witness described the party as ‘lavish, quite like a wedding reception.’

This latter witness recalled how she had handed over some €47,000 to the alleged fraudster, tempted by the plan to invest in a well-known local detergent trade run by a third-party retailer who was allegedly willing to share the profits.

Asked by defence counsel Franco Debono whether she had recovered any money from the accused, the witness replied that she had got back a total of €36,000.

This witness’s father also testified how he had first met Tania Borg when she accompanied his daughter to the family home. Like his other relatives, he had been tempted by the promise of profiting from the lucrative business.

He told the court how he had met the accused at a Floriana bank to withdraw his life policy worth €47,500. Out of these €30,000 were to be invested in the detergent scheme. However, he got a meagre €1,500 which was more than cancelled out by an additional €3,000 loan to the accused.

This man’s sister explained how she too had been duped by the allegedly fraudulent woman who had swindled her out of €5,000. A second request for €3,000 had been turned down.

The witness recalled how Ms Borg had presented her with a private agreement, allegedly already signed by the third party retailer whom she never personally met. The woman had put her signature on the document, but when no return on her investment materialised, her suspicions grew.

Repeated phone calls to the accused proved futile, with the, latter answering in anger and telling the caller “It’s all your brother’s fault!” This victim only managed to recover €250.

Inspector Elton Taliana also explained how during investigations, Ms Borg had insisted on confronting her alleged victims in police presence. However, when actually brought face to face with one of her victims, the woman had allegedly lapsed into silence, refusing to reply and ultimately breaking down in tears.

The case continues later this week when the court is expected to address the issue of bail.

Inspectors Anne Marie Xuereb and Elton Taliana prosecuted.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel.