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Arrests Made in $71,000 Online Banking Fraud Scheme at Banco Popular

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ST. CROIX – In a swift and well-coordinated response by the Economic Crime Unit of the V.I. Police Department, two individuals have been apprehended concerning a fraud scheme that reportedly pilfered $71,000 from unsuspecting Banco Popular customers.

Luis Arias Alvarez, 26, alongside Daymarie Roque-Guerrero, 21, emerged as prime suspects in this sophisticated scam. Initiating their probe on August 9, investigators peeled back the layers of an elaborate deception that revolved around the misuse of the Retiro Movil Platform for online banking.

Bank security footage from Banco Popular branches located at Orange Grove, Sunshine Mall, and Sunny Isles in St. Croix captured the suspects in action. This damning evidence showed Alvarez and Roque-Guerrero making unauthorized ATM withdrawals. Their modus operandi involved illegitimately accessing the Mi Banco Online platform, which led to the unauthorized depletion of funds from innocent customer accounts.

However, their operation hit a snag on Friday. A keen-eyed informant tipped off detectives about Alvarez’s whereabouts near Banco Popular’s Orange Grove Branch. He was soon intercepted as he moved towards Pueblo Golden Rock. Simultaneously, Roque-Guerrero found herself cornered at her residence at #240 Estate Richmond. Both individuals were secured and arrested without incident.

The legal weight now bearing down on the duo is considerable. They face a slew of charges encompassing grand larceny, obtaining money under false pretenses, identity theft, and unauthorized computer access for fraudulent intentions. Following their processing at the Frederiksted-based Wilbur H. Francis Police Operation Building, they were brought before the judicial system. Their collective bail was determined at $20,000.

While Alvarez is currently detained at the John A. Bell Adult Correctional Facility, having not posted bail, Roque-Guerrero secured her release through a 10% bond valued at $2,005, sanctioned by Judge Alphonso G. Andrews.

The forthcoming legal proceedings for the suspects are slated for August 14, 9:00 a.m., at the V.I. Superior Court in St. Croix, where they will be formally advised of their rights.

The V.I. Police Department, unwavering in its commitment, underlines its dedication to curbing economic crimes and ensuring the safety of the community. In light of this, community members are urged to be alert and proactively report any unusual or suspicious activities.

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Crime

BVI Pastor and Radio Host Arrested on Allegations of Fraudulent Government Contracts

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Claude Skelton Cline, a well-known pastor and radio personality in the British Virgin Islands, has been arrested and charged with obtaining property by deception, false accounting, and proceeds of crime.

The arrest follows an announcement from former Governor John Rankin last March, revealing that an audit, recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, scrutinized government contracts awarded to Cline between 2008 and 2010. According to Rankin, the audit uncovered “failures in good governance and improper use of public funds.” The findings were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the police.

BVI police stated that Cline’s arrest on Friday culminated an 18-month criminal investigation initiated by the audit’s findings. The audit revealed that Cline received over $350,000 during this period with negligible results from his consultancy work, leading auditors to conclude that the contracts primarily benefited Cline financially rather than providing value to the government.

“The government failed to receive value for money on these contracts,” the report stated. In response to the public disclosure of the audit findings last year, Cline asserted his innocence, claiming, “I did a phenomenal job for my part in a two-part contractual arrangement.” He further stated, “I feel no compunction to defend myself.”

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Crime

Joseph Anthony Ramirez Faces Attempted Murder Charges After Assaulting Officers in St. Croix

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At the Candido Guadalupe Housing Complex in St. Croix, a report of domestic violence on Sunday afternoon quickly turned perilous for responding officers, culminating in attempted murder charges for 37-year-old Joseph Anthony Ramirez.

The sequence of events unfolded when the Virgin Islands Police Department received a call around 2:33 p.m. from the 911 Emergency Call Center regarding a disturbance at apartment 85, building 7. Upon arrival, officers were informed by the victim that Ramirez had vandalized her apartment. As one officer began to investigate, Ramirez unexpectedly attacked, initiating an assault by placing the officer in a chokehold, threatening his ability to breathe.

The attack escalated even after a good Samaritan and the victim intervened, enabling the officer to momentarily escape. Despite being informed of his arrest, Ramirez attacked again, this time inflicting a severe laceration above the officer’s eyelid and resuming the chokehold. The situation required backup, with two additional officers arriving at the scene before Ramirez could be subdued and arrested.

Charged with attempted murder and third-degree assault, Ramirez was subsequently read his Miranda Rights, booked, and transported to the John Bell Correctional Facility. Unable to meet the initial $100,000 bail, Ramirez was held until a court hearing on Tuesday where his bail was reduced to $10,000. He remains in custody, with a bail hearing scheduled for later today, May 15.

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Crime

St. Croix Woman Faces Felony Charges for Neglecting Children While Partying

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A St. Croix woman, Ana Felix, has been charged with felony child neglect after her children were reportedly left unattended while she attended a party. This incident came to light when a 3-year-old boy was discovered wandering alone at Breezewood Villas apartment complex late on Thursday, May 9.

At around 10:30 p.m., responding to a distress call about the toddler, police were directed by a neighbor who had noticed the child around 9 p.m. The neighbor, realizing the child was unsupervised and inadequately dressed, provided a diaper and alerted authorities.

Upon investigating the apartment indicated by the neighbor, officers found it unoccupied except for a sleeping 10-year-old girl. She initially claimed her mother was at work but later revealed that her mother had gone to a party and was not expected back until morning. Attempts to contact Felix using multiple phone numbers found in the apartment were unsuccessful.

Community members expressed repeated concerns about the children’s welfare, describing previous instances where they intervened to provide care for Felix’s children due to her absence. The officers were able to contact the children’s father, who was unaware of the situation but came promptly to collect his children.

While awaiting his arrival, police discovered the children lacked basic necessities and could not secure their home due to a missing key. The maintenance supervisor at the complex reported previous similar incidents involving the older child, stating he had considered reporting Felix to the Department of Human Services.

The following day, Felix appeared at the Wilbur Francis Command Police Station claiming her children were taken. During a subsequent phone conversation with the police, she admitted to frequently leaving her children alone at home, citing a lack of support and child care assistance.

Felix was arrested on Friday, May 10, when she returned to her residence. Initially held on a $50,000 bail, there is no current information available on the outcome of her advice of rights hearing, which took place on April 13 before Magistrate Ernest Morris, or any adjustments to her bail conditions pending trial.

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