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Accused scammer brought to court as Lands Minister disowns involvement

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2024. 1:25 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: 37-year-old Ada Ethel Toro of Seaweed Street, San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, insisted she was innocent as she appeared in court on two counts of obtaining property by deception to which she pleaded not guilty.

Toro is accused of obtaining $500 in cash from a resident of Hibiscus Street, Belize City, in her bank account, allegedly to assist her in acquiring a booth at the recently re-opened Mahogany Street Marketplace – while allegedly posing as Deputy Prime Minister, Lake Independence area representative and Minister of Natural Resources Cordel Hyde via Facebook.

The complainant said she was directed by the page to make the deposit but later found it was not the Minister making the request, so reported the matter to the police.

Complicating matters in court, the Senior Magistrate in charge of the case noticed after taking the plea that she was related to the complainant, and so voluntarily recused herself from further involvement and made arrangements to re-assign the case to another colleague.

Toro was offered and met bail of $1,000 and surety and will return to court on April 22, but right around mid-day Wednesday police officers were waiting for her outside court and re-detained her to face further charges regarding similar but separate reports.

The Minister gave a statement to the investigating officer in which he made clear that he gave no authorization for any business to be conducted on his behalf; Toro does not work for his Ministry; and she has no permission to use his picture or likeness on Facebook. A television report this week listed no less than six social pages claiming to be owned or run by Hyde, though only one, no longer used, appears to be legitimate.

Police say they have the bank records for both the deposit by the complainant in this case and the subsequent withdrawal as well a record of a MoneyGram money transfer overseas. She supposedly told an officer to “help” her as “I never know I would get in so much trouble.”

 

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