Shoplifter at the centre of passport scam
It started out as a simple case of shoplifting.
However, immigration officials are now investigating a possible Barbados passport scam, involving a woman who goes by multiple identities and nationalities.
Appearing before District ‘A’ Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant Wednesday, Tyrone Sealy, an Immigration Officer attached to the Government department’s Investigating Unit, revealed that accused shoplifter Alexis Ernestine Charles had been issued with a Barbados passport under questionable circumstances.
Sealy told the court that even though the 32 year-old Cane Garden, St Thomas resident was in possession of a valid passport, the associated documentation did not reflect that a Barbados ID card had been submitted, as was required for the official travel document to be issued.
However, the plot got thicker when Sealy informed the court that the name on the passport was not Alexis Charles, even though it was presented by the woman yesterday when she was caught stealing $38.65 worth of items from the Roxy Supermarket on Eagle Hall, St Michael.
To add to the investigating officer’s bewilderment, there was no record in the immigration system of the name, Hosanna Songs, which is contained in the official travel document that was issued on June 30, 2015 and expires in 2025.
Furthermore, Sealy told the court his department could not find any trace of Althea Charles – another name by which the accused woman is known. He went further still and submitted into evidence, an affidavit through which the St Thomas resident had intended to apply for a name change.
Sealy expressed concern about the location of the official seal on the document, adding that an investigation would be launched to determine who the woman really was and how she obtained a Barbados passport.
He promised that the Immigration Department would pursue the matter to the fullest.
Earlier, when police prosecutor Neville Reid introduced the shoplifting case, he said Charles had been charged at Black Rock Police Station yesterday under the name Alexis Ernestine Charles of Cane Garden, St Thomas, but was charged for theft earlier this year using the name Hosanna Songs.
He also told the court that on those two occasions, the woman identified herself as a St Lucian national. However, the prosecutor noted that, according to the Forensic Scenes of Crime Unit, she claimed to be a Guyanese national when she used the name Althea Charles.
In the meantime, the accused woman has pleaded guilty to the charge that she stole one can of cashew nuts and a bottle of olive oil from the Roxy Supermarket and was therefore remanded to HMP Dodds until August 10.