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Fake Private Investigators Con Maltese Man Out Of Thousands In Blackmail Plot

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Two women, including a former police officer, have been sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a victim more than €230,000 after crafting a blackmail plot posing as private investigators 15 years ago.

Times of Malta reported that the victim, John Attard, approached former policewoman Grace Gatt and Lourdes Castillo as private investigators after seeing their advert in a local newspaper, the courts heard.

The victim initially paid Gatt and Castillo to investigate a woman he was interested in. Then, the pair made up a tale about “provocative” messages that Attard allegedly exchanged with an underage girl.

They told him that the girl’s mother was demanding a hefty sum of money in order to keep quiet and that his government job was on the line, so his superiors needed to be paid off too.

Attard paid them over €64,000 to pass onto the girl’s mother and a further €140,000 to bribe his superiors, all of which was pocketed by the duo.

After the women kept making more demands, Attard became suspicious and filed a police report. Police investigated the case and found the two guilty of the scam and sentenced them to two years in prison suspended for four years. They were also ordered to pay Atttard €230,235.

Gatt was dismissed from the police force in 2006 but won a case in the European Court of Human Rights last year over the way the case unfolded.

The ECHR found that the board appointed by the police commissioner to weigh disciplinary actions against her was not independent and impartial and that she was denied her right to a fair hearing when she was dismissed. She was awarded €25,000 in moral damages.

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