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SCAM: Two men charged for claiming to work for FBI

The Attorney General’s office has charged two men on allegations the pair claimed they were from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office, and hired people to do construction work, claiming the laborers would be paid by the FBI.

 Alatise Fonoti and Aperaamo Levi are both charged with two counts of stealing, for appropriating property and services of another at a value of more than $100 to wit: labor services for the purpose of depriving them by means of deceit.

The stealing charges are class C felonies which are punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to $5,000, a fine equal to twice the amount of gain from commission of said crime up to a maximum of $20,000 — or both fine and imprisonment.

According to a six page police affidavit, the government claims Wayne Mataio walked into the Criminal Investigation Division and told police he and his workers were yet to be paid for services they performed for the defendants, who claimed were working for the FBI office. According to court filings, Mataio said that Fonoti hired him and his workers to clear out a section of his property for construction, and Mataio was hired to be the supervisor to work for $10 per hour, plus a $4,000 bonus.

Fonoti told Mataio that they would be paid with funding from the FBI office. Mataio further told police that Fonoti and Levi had told the workers they would be paid $900 per person and that for the workers whose cars are being used, they would get another $100 per day.

Court filings state the workers were also promised items such as toasters, microwaves, DVD players and TVs.

Mataio stated that seven members of his family worked for the defendants and none received any type of payment. The defendants are alleged to have told Mataio that he would receive $2,000 to buy food for the workers but that did not happen.

The government also claims the defendants warned the workers that if they were to ever question them, they would be thrown in jail, and their families would never see them again. 

Mataio told police they worked for the defendants for about three months. It is alleged that the workers received calls about five times from the defendants, saying that the checks were ready — but when the workers arrived where the defendants were, they were told there were no checks, say court filings.

“Fonoti and Levi told them that the FBI boss, a woman named Kim called, and said the checks would be ready once the order for materials for the whole job was sent in.

“The workers said they wanted to see and talk to this woman named Kim from the FBI office but Fonoti and Levi told them she could not come because she was busy with work,” say court filings.

According to a six page affidavit, 26 men told police they were promised by Fonoti and Levi that they would be making $10 an hour, some were promised a TV and DVD player and they were supposed to be paid by the FBI office.

Other complaining witnesses told police they were promised a $4,000 bonus at the completion of the jobs where they were assigned to work. According to the government’s case, one man said they cleaned up about 10 acres of Fonoti’s property and were promised to be paid $10 an hour, and to be paid weekly.

Other complaints in the affidavit state that the defendants threatened the workers, that if they questioned them for their wages they would be arrested and put in jail for two years.

Court filings say that two men claimed the defendants told them if they were arrested for two years, they would not be allowed to eat, and would not be allowed any visitors while they were in jail. According to court filings, one of the workers told police, that his immigration ID card would not be renewed and if they got out of line, they would have the authorities lock them up for two years.

The complaining witnesses told police the defendants threatened to arrest them if they were terminated from their jobs for any discrepancy. Court filings say several of the complaining witnesses used their personal vehicles for the jobs assigned to them by Fonoti and Levi.

It’s alleged a cook was also hired and was promised to be paid $5 per hour, “because all he had to do was cook.” The cook told police the defendants told him this was a federal job, and he worked for three weeks without getting paid.

The government also alleges that Fonoti was contacted by Detectives on March 17 at his residence where he told police that all he can say to the police is that he works for the FBI under the CIS Division.

Levi was also contacted by CID Detectives and did not want to provide a written statement but police asked him if he is — or was ever — a member of the FBI, and Levi responded “yes”. Mataio, who initially filed the complaint with police provided bills and time sheets of the workers to police.

Court filings claim that CID Detectives confirmed with FBI Agent Matthew McDonald that Levi was not associated with the FBI.

The defendants were in District Court yesterday for their preliminary examination hearing however they waived their rights to hold the hearing and will be arraigned in High Court on Monday.

The pair, who are held on bail of $10,000 each are represented by the Public Defender’s office while Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde is prosecuting this matter.