eight people tried from this Monday

eight people tried from this Monday

Eight people, five of whom were extradited by Israel, are on trial starting this Monday at the Paris criminal court for wire transfer fraud committed during the first confinement imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The eight suspects – six men and two women – will appear, depending on the person, for fraud or attempted fraud by an organized gang, money laundering by an organized gang or even criminal association.

The trial, scheduled for six half-days, is due to end on January 26. The case began in March 2020, at the start of confinement, when several complaints were filed by companies or entities working in the health field, according to the order for referral to the criminal court.

Scams worth more than 300,000 euros

Each time the same false transfer order (FOVI) scam scheme is described: the complainants first received documentation on products on sale such as FFP2 masks, gloves or hydroalcoholic gel. They were then approached by telephone, by people using false names and claiming to be fictitious entities, and encouraged to place orders, but never received the equipment.

The funds paid were transferred to accounts opened abroad using stolen identities. In total, the damage from the facts denounced was estimated at 330,252 euros, according to the order. From June 2020, when the shortage of medical or paramedical equipment was no longer relevant, the scammers moved on to another type of fraud: they contacted companies pretending to be officials of the tax administration and asked them for the names of their main suppliers.

They then contacted these companies again, posing as their suppliers, to carry out the “change of RIB” (bank identity statement) scam. But no damage was to be deplored, the investigators having placed the lines used by the crooks under surveillance and warned the companies of the maneuvers to which they were subject.

The suspects denied being aware of participating in fraudulent schemes.

Four men and a woman, “members of the call center” located in Netanya, Israel, according to the order, were finally arrested at the end of June-beginning of July 2020 by the Israeli authorities, then extradited to France and indicted. “This means that judicial cooperation is working,” underlines Me David-Olivier Kaminski, who defends two of the defendants. “Unlike France which does not extradite its nationals, Israel has extradited its own,” he observes.

Three other people, suspected of laundering these scams, two of whom lived abroad, were indicted in April and June 2023 by the investigating magistrates. These three suspects denied being aware of participating in fraudulent schemes. “We understand that the facts can be shocking, but morality must not replace justice,” warns Me Philippe Ohayon, lawyer for another defendant.

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