With an out-of-court settlement, a well-planned fraud case set up against businesses from Thessaloniki was closed.
A business meeting in the central square of Romea factory property in Sindoa (non-existent) real estate company based in London, a usb stick with bitcoins, worth 400,000 euros, compose the basic pieces of the puzzle of the well-planned fraud, which was set up at the expense of businesses from Thessaloniki and occupied the November of the Electric Prosecution. THE GREEK POLICE.
For the case, reminiscent of a movie script, the young Romanian couple, who were arrested at the “Macedonia” international airport, before departing on a flight to Paris. However, it is considered certain that the “mastermind” of the fraud remains elusive.
Eleven months later and after successive meetings and negotiations between the legal representatives of the two sides – on one side of the two defendants and on the other side of the businessman – the “final signs” regarding the couple’s criminal involvement were dropped, as an out-of-court settlement was reached, which provides for the compensation of the victim, with the amount of 150,000 euros.
The compromise was sealed in the hall of the Three-member Court of Criminal Appeals of Thessaloniki, where the two Romanians, remanded pending trial and accused of computer fraud and gang, were brought to trial. Having already received – as was told to the audience – the above amount, in cash and through successive bank transfers, the Greek businessman withdrew his complaint regarding the part of the first act, while for the second, which is being prosecuted ex officio, the Court found them not guilty . , and were consequently released.
However, the process was almost thrown into the “air”, as the side of the business questioned the source of origin of the last remittance, expressing reservations about its possible involvement with the competent Authority for money laundering. The solution was finally given by the Court, which accepted an explicit reference to be made when the decision was written down, that there is no wrongdoing or illegality with the amount of the specific remittance.
The advertisement, the brokerage “company” and “Omar”
The chronicle of the unprecedented case began in March 2021, when the victim published an advertisement on the Internet for the sale of a factory complex in Sindos, for a price of 2 million euros. Some time later he himself received a phone call from abroad informing him of (alleged) interest from the London real estate group in purchasing the property and promoting it to his clientele.
In the same communication, he proposed to meet a representative of the company in Rome to discuss the business “deal”. The unsuspecting businessman agreed to travel to the Eternal City, where indeed a meeting followed with the person who was introduced to him as a British citizen of Indian origin, named “Omar”, and he was in the Italian capital for some other investment, as he told his Greek interlocutor.
The discussion between the two men seemed to create the conditions for the sale to proceed. The interlocutor of the Greek businessman showed serious professionals, presenting development strategies and investment schedules and after explaining that the purchase did not precede the autopsy control of the property, he set the brokerage company’s fee at 445,000 dollars at the time (or 400 million euros). but as a condition that this money be delivered in the form of cryptocurrencies.
However, what the owner of the property was unaware of until then, was that from the beginning the purpose of the alleged instrument was to extract the commission. What followed was constant communications, exchanges of emails, mailings of documents and purchase contracts which as it would later turn out were all plastic.
The gold-bearing “stick” that made… wings
In the meantime, the time for the signing of the preliminary agreement was approaching. The businessman had made all the necessary preparations, setting up a brokerage company and appointing a tax representative – a “complicated process”, as he would testify later -, while he had taken care to convert the commission money into bitcoins and store them on usb “sticks” with the codes . , inside a folder. However, as the alleged solvency check of the property was pending, an appointment was made for the beginning of November 2021 in Thessaloniki, where two representatives of the brokerage company would arrive.
The 27-year-old Romanian arrived at the company’s office. “She was in disguise, wearing a wig and blue contact lenses, high heels. She was very comfortable,” the victim described the young woman, testifying in court. “The whole story was about this stick,” he added. Under the pretense of controlling the usb to release its content, he managed to juggle replacing the stigma with cryptocurrencies with a matching device that was empty.
After confirming that everything was fine with the file, she greeted the business, telling him she was going to London, and left the office. A few hours later, the victim discovered the theft of the usb, notified the Electronic Crime Prosecution of Northern Greece and police searches immediately began. The police authorities at the “Macedonia” airport were immediately informed, and they made a “leaf and feather” of all the passenger lists of the flights.
How were the arrests made?
The young woman was finally at the airport with her 20-year-old boyfriend, having already passed the gate to board the plane. Their movements seem to have aroused the suspicions of the police. As a police officer of the “Macedonia” airport testified, “they had boarded a flight at the last minute and were carrying many bags full of products they bought from the duty-free”. The 27-year-old Romanian – in the meantime – had thrown away her wig, put on a jumpsuit and sports shoes. On his way to the airport, as the police investigation revealed, he had made sure to forward the bitcoin codes to the “mastermind” of the fraud.
She herself, in her apology for the part of the gang, stated that she knew nothing about the fraud, adding that she was also angry. “Omar called me asking for my help with a problem he was having with a gentleman who owed him money. I agreed to come here. My friend came along so I wouldn’t be alone,” she said, apologizing to the victim. Her words were confirmed by her co-accused in his own apology, while the couple’s lawyer said that the families “sold out” to collect the money agreed as compensation.