Jan 11, 2014 News
– Police issue wanted bulletin
Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of a middle-aged woman, who has reportedly solicited money from a string of unsuspecting persons, under the pretext that she is former beauty queen, Olive Gopaul.
The suspect, Pretima Augustus, 47, of Critchlow Street, Tucville is wanted by the police for questioning in relation to reports of Obtaining Money by False Pretence.
Augustus is said to have collected large sums of money from prominent persons from the business community, while claiming to be Ms Gopaul.
According to a release from the Guyana Police Force, Augustus would contact unsuspecting persons by telephone and claim that she is the former Miss Guyana Universe and that she is ill and is soliciting funds to assist with her medical treatment.
When this newspaper contacted Ms. Gopaul, said that she is “disturbed,” by the whole scenario.
She expressed grave concern at the issue, which she views as an attempt to tarnish her reputation and image as well as that of her company, ONG Production’s Inc.
Gopaul learnt of Augustus’s scam in the latter part of November 2013.
“I got a call from Knight Rider Bus Service after she had contacted them pretending to be me. She told them that she was trying to raise money for someone who is terminally ill with cancer and needs financial assistance to travel to Trinidad for treatment… She was supposed to collect $20,000 from Knight Rider. However, the owner realized that something was amiss when she called back asking for directions, because he knows me well…. That‘s the first time she was caught….
“I never met her, but she spoke to me over the phone after the owner of Knight Rider called me … She pleaded with me not to go to the police because she is sick and there was no other way for her to raise the money. She told me that she needed the money but persons wouldn’t help her while she was using her own name, so she used mine because in her words ‘it has weight.’”
Kaieteur News understands that the woman was subsequently arrested by police for impersonating the former beauty queen, but was released.
Ms. Gopaul said that police at that time claimed that the suspect could not have been charged.
Augustus might have swindled an estimated half a million dollars from commercial entities including auto sales dealerships, boutiques, hotels, and vulcanizing shops.
Gopaul has since issued warnings to those in the business community whom the suspect and those with similar intent may target.
“Business persons need to be extra careful with those soliciting financial assistance. These persons must provide substantiated information and they must verify their identity. That is the only way to bring an end to these scams.”
“I am quite upset that she was allowed to abuse a household name.”
According to the wanted bulletin which was issued by the police yesterday, Gopaul has indicated that she is in good health and has not authorised anyone to collect monies on her behalf for any purpose.
“Anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of Pretima Augustus is asked to contact the police on telephone numbers 225-6411, 225-2227, 226-7065, 227-1149, 911 or the nearest police station. All information will be treated with strict confidence.”
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