A woman who swindled three unsuspecting victims out of some €470,000 - which she claimed to need for cancer treatment but actually spent on gambling - has been jailed four years and fined €70,000.

Anna Cutajar, a 60-year-old Żabbar resident arraigned in November, was described by the prosecution as “a professional con-artist” who, while unemployed and living off social benefits, invented the ruse and defrauded three people out of thousands of euros.

The woman claimed that she needed money to cover expenses related to cancer treatment.

Occasionally she duped her victims into giving her money by saying that she was collecting donations for medical treatment for a friend’s son who was suffering a terminal illness.

She then spent all the collected funds at casinos, the court was told.

Cutajar was arrested and charged with fraud, making fraudulent gains, misappropriation and money laundering.

Upon arraignment, the accused pleaded not guilty, was remanded in custody and detained at Mount Carmel Hospital under psychiatric care.

As criminal proceedings continued, the court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, received a joint application signed by the Attorney General and the defence following a plea bargaining exercise.

The parties agreed that, in case of admission, the punishment ought to be a four-year effective jail term and a fine of €70,000.

After hearing submissions and after taking note of the accused’s clean conduct sheet on one hand and the serious nature of the offences on the other, the court observed that the suggested punishment was legitimate.

The court also ordered the confiscation of all assets of the accused in favour of the government and ordered notification of the judgment upon the Asset Recovery Bureau.

The accused was also ordered to pay €2,219.21 by way of court expert expenses.

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