Caretaker of licenced liquor business fleeced by men pretending to be GRA agents

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A 67-year-old caretaker of a licenced liquor business was on Tuesday morning scammed of almost $300,000 in liquor and cash from two men pretending to be officials attached to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

According to the victim- known as “Aunty Seeta”- who has been the caretaker of Amazon Delight located at Regent and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown, the incident occurred on Tuesday last at about 10:00hrs.

She recalled that two men, dressed in white shirt jacks and black dress pants, entered the business and displayed what she mistook to be authentic GRA badges.

“They said GRA sent them to seize the imported liquor because she didn’t have their [GRA] stamp on it,” she explained.

In November of 2017, GRA instituted its Excise Tax Stamps which are required to be placed on imported alcohol (excluding beer) and Tobacco products.

As such, importers, businesses and persons selling alcohol and tobacco products are expected to have these stamps on their products to verify that the items were legally imported in Guyana.

File photo: Stamped alcohol from the launch of the Excise Stamp Programme

According to “Seeta,” she was ordered to turn over $150,000 in imported liquor- namely, Tequila, Whiskey, Black Hennessy, Ciroc, Grey Goose, Apple Smirnoff and Vanilla Smirnoff.

Moreover, the men advised her that if she did not want to face charges and be dragged to the courts, she should pay them $125,000.

The woman said that she complied.

However, after the men left, “Seeta” said she began to feel skeptical about the way in which the matter was handled.

As such, she reportedly contacted the GRA office on Wednesday and reported the matter.

However, she was then informed that no officials attached to the entity were ordered to seize her items. It was then that the pensioner realised she had been scammed.

“I called 911 and they took a statement from me and told me to report to Alberttown Police Station today to give my statement,” the woman told this online publication.

Seeta has been taking care of the business since 2004 and according to her, this is the first time she has encountered such an incident.

An investigation has been launched.

Following reports of persons impersonating licenced custom house brokers and officers of the GRA, the entity in January of 2018 via a statement said that the public should to be on the look-out for these ‘imposters’ as “many have fallen victim to their hoax.”

According to the GRA, their officers are not “authorised to collect monies from taxpayers since all payments are effected at the Cashier’s – GRA’s Regional Offices and its Headquarters.”

Further to this, the Revenue Authority said a receipt should be obtained for all payments to the GRA. (Ramona Luthi)

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