A manipulative, professional con

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 October 2017, 12:00AM

Heartless con people making the rounds and swindling money from unsuspecting victims has become a major issue in Samoa. You’d think that just because we live in Samoa where it’s small and people know each other such a menace wouldn’t exist. 

Well think again. There are criminals who don’t care about the rule of law at all.

They will rob you during the day and they don’t care.

One of them appeared on the front page of the Sunday Samoan on 24 September 2017. Under the headline “Professional Con Artist,” the story confers Fata Fereti Fiti, of Mulifanua with the unflattering distinction. And rightly so.

Fiti’s first victim is a 57-year-old male of Palisi who went to Farm Tech Supply at Fugalei to purchase some chairs. The shop was closed but Fiti approached the victim and misled him into believing he worked for Farm Tech and that he could place his order through him.  The victim believed him and gave $400, which he ran off with. 

Seven days later on 20/09/11, he set his sights on an 86-year-old male of Vailele. The victim and his family went to the Quarantine Office (“QO”) at Matautu to treat their fine mats (faaasu). He ended up taking the finemats valued at $21,000. 

The third incident happened between 1 and 28 February 2013. The victim this time was a 67-year-old male of Faleasiu. He was at the Court complex and had a conversation with Fiti where he told him “o a’u e fai la’u piki maukegi (I run a pumpkin picking company).

He managed to convince the old man he could get his sons to work for him and from there the lies and deception was simply amazing.

“You asked the victim on this first meeting if he had a fine mat for your fa’alavelave. The next day you uplifted this from the victim’s house. On the same month, you called the victim and indicated that two of his sons could go on the trip and to pay you $200 each for their passports.”

To spice up things, you added that the money would be sent to NZ by bank cheque to process the visas. The victim, whom by now was completely under your spell and trusted you, paid you $400. 

“A week later, you kept the momentum going on your deception by asking the victim for a size 2 pig for the lawyer in charge of processing the travel  documents. This was done. The pig is said to be valued at $400. After that you asked for $100 from the victim, he gave you $70 instead.  “On the same month of February you asked for another size 2 pig. Still believing you were preparing travel documents for the victim’s sons, he killed the pig, roasted it and delivered it to you. 

“On the same occasion, you uttered words of inducement to further lure the victim into your plot of “aua gei misi le aso Lulu e o aku ai kamaiki e fai le lakou fogo i le ofisa o le loia o Latu”. But you knew very well this was a lie. The total value of the fruits of your false representations from this victim was $2170. 

But that wasn’t all. A month later, Fiti struck again. This time the victim was a 54-year-old male of Vailele-uta.

“You assisted the victim, Filiga Miti in processing his entitlement with NPF. The victim was informed to uplift his cheque on 9 March 2013. On 8 March 2013, you marched into the NPF office and misled the officer that you were Filiga Miti. Tricked by your false representation, the cheque was released to you. 

“You then went to Westpac Bank, and misled the bank officer you knew there that you were one and the same person as Filiga Miti and cashed out the cheque of $592.32. The next day when the victim went to uplift his cheque from NPF it was then discovered that the cheque was released to the wrong person.” 

Fiti also approached another victim who was a businessman at Alafua.

“You asked the victim for $500 to process your father’s land and it would be repaid in due course. The victim believed you and gave you $500.  “On 28/01/15 you again approached the same victim and sought $1000 again for the land documents on the basis it would be repaid. This was done.

“On 5/02/15, you went back and conned another $700 off the same victim who gave in yet again to your request on the belief you would repay it. This never happened. The total monies you obtained by deception from this victim is $2200.” 

On 31 October 2016, he turned his attention to a 53-year-old female of Lalovaea who works at Nelson Public Library.

 “You told the victim here that you had a half acre land you could sell her at a low price. Believing this to be true, the victim went with you to MNRE to obtain the plan of the land. The victim then gave you $60.

 “You requested further monies to process the paperwork and on 1/11/16, the victim gave you $50. On 2/11/16 she gave you $130.The next day $800.00. The total monies the victim gave you was $1,040.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the sort of stuff we expect in the movies and yet it is happening right here in Samoa.

The good news is that Fiti has been caught and District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Viane Papalii, has sent him to Tafaigata where he truly belongs.

“The community is not safe from you,” Judge Alalatoa said.

“I view you as a high risk to innocent, gullible and vulnerable members of our community who must be protected against your evil schemes. 

“The level of premeditation on your part is significant. As I said above, you chose your victims well. You breached their trust.”

The Court noted that his actions were calculated, manipulative and cruel. 

“This was chronic serial offending, committed with complete disregard of the welfare of the victims. Although you finished school at Standard 3, this is not reflected in the level of your manipulative schemes. 

“You managed by quite ingenious and very premeditated methods to extract money and other items from each of the six victims. In simple terms, you became a professional.”

There is no doubt that we are delighted Fiti is now behind bars. Thank you Judge Alalatoa and the Court system. 

The obvious lesson for everyone is that not everyone is worth trusting. The level of desperation and criminality out there today has become so great people are literally no longer afraid to rob others with their eyes wide opened. 

So be careful and stay safe, Samoa!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 October 2017, 12:00AM

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