With prison sentences 9 years and 6 months were sentenced yesterday by the Five-member Court of Criminal Appeals two Roma, father and son, as they were found guilty, inter alia, of fraud by complicity and by consequence.

The trial was repeated yesterday in the second instance and three of the total 21 defendants sat on the bench (the fourth was convicted in absentia) for one of the most sophisticated frauds against dozens of professionals throughout Greece, with victims including Larisa residents.

For a total of 46 fraud cases (31 committed and 15 attempted) in 29 regions of the country (including Larissa, Farsala, Elassona, Kozani, Litochoro, Chalkida, Messolonghi, Didymoteicho, Alexandroupoli, Corfu, Kalamata, Argostoli, Rethymnon, Plataria , Heraklion, Sitia, Amfissa, Orchomenos, Naoussa (Paros), Giannitsa, Florina, Lamia, Orestiada, Arnaia, Zarko, Nydri, etc.), with the perpetrators illegally obtaining a financial benefit that exceeded 137,000 euros.

Their action revealed an investigation by the Larissa Security Sub-Directorate in 2019, with the defendants who are mostly Roma and residents of Attica taking advantage of the situation in each region.

They communicated by telephone with local businessmen to whom they introduced themselves by citing names of existing persons in each area such as businessmen, traders, doctors, pharmacists, mayors or vice-mayors, placing orders for products which they would supposedly donate to a charitable cause.

In Evros they cited the irregular situation at the Greek-Turkish border in Kastanies due to the migration flows and ordered clothing to be made available to military and police officers, while in Larissa they called on behalf of the deputy mayor of the Municipality of Larisa to fruit and vegetable trading businesses ordering fruit which, due to the coronavirus, would supposedly be distributed to vulnerable groups. In Elassona they invoked a local doctor, managing to deceive a gas station owner.

The perpetrators they cheated on the phone their victims depositing supposedly by mistake a larger amount of money than the value of the order and then immediately requesting the return of the extra amount from their victims. If, for example, they had to deposit 500 euros for the purchase of heating oil, they stated that by “mistake” they deposited 5,000 euros into the prospective victim’s account, asking to be allowed the difference of 4,500 euros.

The way of action confirmed yesterday with their statements, both a police officer who participated in the investigation and several victims.

“I involved my son in two or three cases” the first defendant emphasized in his apology, wanting to take full responsibility and lighten the position of his co-accused son.

To add that “I did not talk to any of these people who say they lost their money”, to request “to be punished” as he said “for what I have done and my participation was to collect bills”, clarifying that the “rental” of each account cost about 100 euros, as he stated.

As is known from other cases fraud through bank accounts, the perpetrators immediately distribute the stolen money to a number of bank accounts and, having third-party beneficiary cards in their possession, make withdrawals from various ATMs.

The apologies of the other two co-accused followed, with the prosecutor suggesting their guilt as at first instance. Father and son were found guilty, and after the recognition of a mitigating factor, they were sentenced to 9 years and 6 months in prison (instead of 13 years at first instance) and returned to prison.

The third defendant did not appear and Mrsentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison, while the fourth defendant was found not guilty (s.s. from 2 years imprisonment at first instance).

Eleftheria Newspaper / Vangelis Kakaras-