Alakoni Pinetuaoi Sio Tevaga, from Samalaeulu, Vaitele Tai and Sa’anapu, had been accused of running an immigration scam that has cost a Fagamalo couple about $20,000. She has been convicted of two charges of obtaining by deception. Her sentence was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke.
Tevaga was represented by lawyer, Arthur Lesa, while the prosecutor was Fuifui Ioane of the Attorney General’s Office. According to Justice Leiataualesa, the crime committed by the defendant involves a significant amount of money, extent of her planning and premeditation, offending was ongoing and lengthy and was carried out while on bail for the same offence of obtaining by deception. He also said these charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and falls within the jurisdiction of the District Court.
“I am satisfied that it is desirable and expedient in the interests of justice to hear and determine your sentencing within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,In terms of the charges, you entered guilty pleas to the charges on the hearing date when two other charges against you were withdrawn by leave on prosecution application and dismissed.”
According to the Police summary of facts, the defendant was contacted by the victim to assist in processing a visitor’s visa to Australia for his partner.
On 23 September 2016, the Australian High Commission contacted the victim by email, advising him that the visitor visa had been declined.
“On 16 September 2016, you obtained from the victim $675 for his new passport, $150 for a statutory declaration and $5,800 for air fares. The total amount taken by you was $6,625. You never disclosed to the victim any information about his passport application or the statutory declaration, but showed him only a hand written receipt for $5,800 for the air tickets. It seems that no air tickets were ever provided by you to the victim. You then told the victim to prepare the second visa application. You also told him that your friend ‘Carolyn’, employed in the Australian High Commission, would approve the visa application. The victim then compiled the material for the second visa application and this is said to have been lodged on 28 September, 2016. On 17 October 2016, you obtained a further $14,000 from the victim including all fees and payments for the second visa application. The victim and his partner made contact with you requesting correspondence relating to the visa application. You then created a false email under Carolyn’s name, which made the victim believe the visa had been lodged. The victim had authorised you to act on his behalf during the visa application process. The victim and his partner waited until they discovered that you had lied to them about the visa application process and that the person named Carolyn, had no knowledge of the visa application or of you. The total amount you obtained by deception from the victim was $20,625. None of this money has been repaid directly to the victim. It is accepted by the victim in the V.I.R, however that you did pay for a one way airfare for him to travel to Australia valued at $1,405 so the true amount of the direct loss is $19,220.”
The complainant or the victim is a male of Rosemount, Australia.
He is a former Hotel Manager at the Savaii Lagoon Resort.