Pensioner conned out of €2.3m in fake share scam
A pensioner from Carinthia has been conned out of around €2.3m after “investing” in fake shares for years.
He bought what he thought were American shares, and paid exorbitant fees to bank accounts in the USA, the Philippines and the Czech Republic.
Police say he didn’t get a single euro back and believe he was duped by a gang of professional criminals. He finally reported the scam on Wednesday.
Around ten years ago the man bought US shares which the “brokers” told him were worth around €100,000. He only spoke to the brokers via telephone and fax, and was sent glossy brochures and authentic looking security papers which convinced him that he was dealing with a serious organisation.
Two years ago, a company which said it was acting as an intermediary and claimed to be based in Tokyo approached him and advised him to buy US oil & gas shares. By this time, he had already transferred around $10,000 to a bank in the Philippines.
Earlier this year, he received a fictitious court ruling from the "Federal Court District of Iowa" saying he was entitled to a reimbursement of some $100,000, but that he would first have to pay $9,000. "For the first time he realised that the stories they were spinning him were a bit odd,” chief inspector Franz Truschner told the Austria Press Agency.
The man’s accountant strongly advised him not to pay the money, and he followed that advice.
However, a man posing as an Irish agent then contacted him and offered to buy all of his shares for just under €3m. He said that for tax reasons this deal would have to be processed via an English broker, and that the pensioner must first pay a fee for the deal into a Czech account. He did this, but didn’t receive the promised three million.
In the summer he received a notification from a Japanese "Consolitations Committee" that an international bank was holding several hundred thousand US dollars on his behalf. However, the bank guarantee from the Philippine National Bank turned out to be a fake.
It was at this point that the gullible pensioner decided to contact the police. "We are assuming that these are professional fraudsters," Truschner said, adding that it’s highly unlikely the unlucky man will be able to recover the money he was conned out of, giving the numerous complicated transfers that were made to foreign bank accounts.