A self-proclaimed millionaire who tricked unsuspecting victims out of their money after offering to help them through difficult patches in life by giving them exorbitant sums of money, was granted bail after admitting to fraud. 

Noel Bonello, a 34-year-old Żabbar resident, was escorted to court on Wednesday afternoon after two couples reported to the police about how they had been swindled out of money requested by the accused to withdraw his own millions. 

He had first turned up with an estate agent to view a penthouse put on the market by one of the victims.

Bonello apparently showed an interest in purchasing the property and asked the vendor why he had decided to sell. 

Upon hearing that the seller needed the funds for his son’s medical treatment abroad, Bonello told him not to go ahead with the sale. 

He [Bonello] had inherited “millions” and would willingly help the distraught parents. 

He later asked them for €1,000 to be able to withdraw his own funds.

But after being handed the money, the promised millions never materialised and the couple soon realised that they had been duped. 

On Tuesday, another couple went to the police. 

The same suspect had offered to help them with their business and again bragged about his riches, saying he had “€57 billion”.

Under the same pretext of withdrawing his funds, he asked the couple for €3,500. 

Once again, the promised funds never materialised. 

The scam landed the suspect in court, facing a raft of charges related to misappropriation, fraud, and misuse of electronic communications equipment. 

Prosecuting Inspectors Jonathan Cassar and Gabriel Kitcher presented documents including a paper signed by the accused promising €1 million to the first victim. 

Another contract drawn up before a notary was to promise €5.6 million to the second couple. 

Social media chats between the accused and his victims were also produced in evidence. 

His lawyer Franco Debono said that the accused was pleading guilty but requesting a pre-sentencing report and supervision during bail. 

“He was seriously ill. He cooperated in full,” said Debono, explaining that the accused had some underlying condition which needed to be addressed as it was the root of all his trouble. 

Moreover, this was an ideal case to put into practice the little-applied legal mechanism of accused-victim mediation. 

The prosecution agreed that it was in the interests of society at large for the accused to reform himself. 

“But we must also not forget the victims and make sure that they are reimbursed,” said inspector Cassar. 

After hearing those submissions, the court, presided over by magistrate Leonard Caruana, upheld the request for bail against a deposit of €300, a personal guarantee of €3,500, signing the bail book three times a week and under a curfew between 9pm and 6am. 

The court also upheld the request for a pre-sentencing report and deferred the case for that update in December. 

Lawyer Francesca Zarb was also defence counsel. 

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