Woman who faked oil and gas training released on $680,000 bail

The woman identified as the “General Secretary” for the company “Inland and Offshore Recruiting and Clearing Agency’ or  (IORCA), was on Wednesday released on $680,000 bail for operating a fake oil and gas training course.

Simone Fortune of Canje Berbice was today slapped with 17 fraud charges when she appeared in the New Amsterdam Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Renita Singh.

She pleaded not guilty to the offence which stated that between January 17 and January 20, 2020 at Pitt Street New Amsterdam Berbice, with intent to defraud, she obtained the sum of $160,000 from 17 individuals under false pretence.

The court heard that Fortune advertised training courses for Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers at a total cost of $160,000. Persons were told that they would receive competency and endorsement certificates from Honduras and Panama that would guarantee employment in the petroleum sector. However, more than eleven months after participating in the seven-day course, the seamen are still awaiting on their certificates, which prompted their suspicion that something was amiss and led to them going to the Police.

A PDF version of their certificates was subsequently sent via a WhatsApp group but it was not from Panama or Honduras but a company named “Macosnar Training Institute Corp.” When the men reached out to the Institute, they were informed that the certificates were fake and not valid.  A report was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who recommended that the woman be charged with obtaining money under false pretence.

Magistrate Singh granted the woman bail in the sum of $680,000 bail with the conditions that she lodge her passport and report to the Central Police Station every Friday. She is expected to make another court appearance on January 26, 2021.