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440 million euros ended up in the hands of fraudsters who had no right to government assistance. The criminal group came to the attention of the police as part of the financial monitoring of banking operations - suspicious transactions came from the accounts of bankrupt companies.

A total of 78 people are under investigation, 35 of them have already been arrested. In addition to receiving illegal coronavirus aid, the suspects also used schemes to access funds allocated to combat the consequences of earthquakes.

The scammers laundered the proceeds by investing in cryptocurrencies and purchasing precious metals. And during searches, the police found entire suitcases stuffed with banknotes.

Italian media highlight the particular cynicism of criminals who profited from the pandemic. “Coronavirus has brought good luck,” one of the scammers said without embarrassment. “I flew around the world, opening more and more new bank accounts.”
 
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