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Fuad to call in Fraud Squad
A scam allowing potential borrowers to be granted thousands of dollars from financial institutions has been discovered at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC). The scam involves falsified job letters issued on what appears to be the updated version of the regional health authority’s letterhead, and payslip adjustments to reflect a fictitious increase in earnings. The Sunday Guardian learned an employee of the North Central Regional Health Authority is suspected of being behind the scam.
And concerns have also been raised as to whether the culprit has been selling these false documents to other employees who are in need of financial assistance. Investigations revealed the latest scam was averted two months ago at Island Finance’s head office in Port-of-Spain when a loan officer found documents submitted by the EWMSC employee to be suspect. Customers meeting the necessary requirements of the financial institution can qualify for the maximum loan of $30,000.
The scam, Sunday Guardian understands, was busted after the loan officer telephoned the complex enquiring whether the regional authority had issued a job letter on behalf of the employee. Contacted on Friday, an official at the financial institution said it was a breach of confidentiality to divulge any information about customers, but confirmed the matter was brought to the attention of management.
Investigations found the job letter bearing the letterhead of the EWMSC was not the revised version issued by the authority. The signature of the acting manager of employee/employment services Agatha Eastman George was also discovered to be forged. The following pay slip adjustments were also discovered:
• Total gross earnings adjusted from $10,675 to $9,575
• Net pay adjusted from $5,489.42 to $7,247.50
• Total deductions adjusted from $5,185.58 to $2,327.50
• Adjustment to PAYE from $1,419 to $1,417
• Adjustments to NIS from $291.08 to $291
• Omission of the bank deductions for the month of June ($2,500)
• Omission of communication allowance paid for the month of June ($350)
• Omission of on-call allowance paid for the month of June ($750)
• Adjustment to the Staff of Hope monthly deductions from $506 to $150
Acting manager demoted for alerting
In addition, no request had been made to the human resource department for copies of a job letter or payslip. However, unaware of the investigations, the culprit forwarded the documents to the human resource department to be placed on his file. Checks revealed that up until Friday, the culprit was still employed at the complex. Eastman George, whose signature was forged has since been demoted to her substantial position of human resource officer.
Several attempts by the Sunday Guardian to contact Eastman George were unsuccessful as calls and voicemail messages to her cellphone were not returned. She had been acting in the position of manager of employee/employment services for the past two years, but officials, the Sunday Guardian learned, informed Eastman George of her demotion on her return from leave earlier this month. The demotion comes two months after the scam was reported to senior management.
An upset member of staff said, “We need the Minister of Health to get involved in this matter. For too long incidents that should be investigated have been covered up and we are talking out now! “If the minister is serious about fixing the system he would take decisive action and hold those responsible for their actions. It cannot be that workers are being victimised for speaking out about wrongdoing.” Acting CEO Collin Bissessar and human resource consultant Kawal Singh also could not be reached for comment.
Fuad: I am calling in the Fraud Squad
Contacted yesterday, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said he had ordered an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fraudulent activities. The minister said the findings of the investigation would be handed over to the Fraud Squad.
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