MARIGOT–Brigade Territoriale Autonome (BTA) of St. Barths Gendarmerie is appealing for possible St. Martin victims of a recent credit card scam to come forward to assist with their investigation.
A couple from Paris was recently arrested in St. Barths and jailed in Guadeloupe for having made payments with a stolen or fake credit card. The couple had vacationed in St. Martin from January 2, and in St. Barths from January 7 to 11.
The woman in question, who was accompanied by a Colombian man, was previously convicted some years ago for the same offence in France, according to Police aux Frontières (PAF) in St. Martin. PAF has nothing to do with the current case but were alerted to the woman’s arrival at the beginning of January at Princess Juliana International Airport by immigration officers.
PAF’s Dutch-side counterparts at the airport noted she had a page missing from her passport. She was subsequently denied entry and put on the next plane back to France. However, prior to take-off the woman was caught smoking and taken off the plane and escorted to the French-side border from where she was then said to have made a reservation at La Samanna.
PAF indicated it was aware of the woman’s background, having checked their data base on the tip-off from their Dutch-side colleagues. But in this instance the woman had served her sentence for previous crimes, so there was nothing they could do. She was simply a tourist on the French side.
The woman was arrested in a hotel in St. Barths after the hotel’s management alerted the Gendarmerie to the fraud which came to light before the woman’s departure from the hotel. PAF said in most cases an unpaid bill would show up in the accounts a few days, or weeks later, long after the suspect has disappeared.
PAF suggested the crime could have been committed by use of a hidden camera in an ATM machine that records the card details and PIN number, or a card could have been fabricated from stolen credit card details available on the Internet’s dark web.
No further clarity could be obtained from the Gendarmerie in St. Martin.
Investigators say victims in St. Martin are most likely hotels or restaurants that have had bills returned unpaid following reservations made by card between December 31, 2019, and January 7. The Gendarmerie recommends hotel managers, car rental companies or charter boat rentals, and shops to check their accounts in the coming days for credit card transactions returned unpaid, and inform the BTA in St. Barths. Tel. (0590) 27.11.70. or dial the number 17.