Fraudsters escape prison for major online scam

Several fraudsters who used Swedish buy-sell site Blocket to defraud 268 people of more than one million kronor ($156,000) won't end up going to prison following a court ruling.

Fraudsters escape prison for major online scam

One of the main perpetrators of the scam was initially sentenced to two years in prison for offences dating back to 2008. However, he avoided prison in part because five years elapsed from the time the crime was committed to the time the ruling was handed down, the local Hallands Nyheter newspaper reported.

Many of the dodgy deals involved victims shelling out hundreds of kronor for mobile phones, computer games, and other electronic items. One victim was tricked into paying for a phantom mountain cabin while another bought several non-existent puppies.

It’s estimated that over a million kronor was spent on the fake items although the actual number is likely to be much higher as it is believed many victims failed to report the fraud.

A total of 23 people, most from western Sweden, were prosecuted with 22 convicted of serious fraud. Most denied the charges.

The three suspected ringleaders were sentenced to 18 months in prison. A 26-year old residing in Halmstad was given a two year sentence for serious fraud.

A total of 13 of the 22 people convicted appealed their convictions. One 26-year-old avoided a prison sentence and was instead given a fine and released on probation as the court took into consideration that he was 21 when the fraud took place.

Many others had their sentences modified and reduced. Only two men, aged 26 and 27 years old respectively, were given a prison sentence of a year each. A 23-year old woman was acquitted completely.

In its lengthy ruling, the court added that the crimes were organized and had been carried systematically with offenders working together to target victims.

Last month it was revealed that fraudsters were posting fake apartment listings to target students with Blocket urging users to keep their wallets sealed under a contract is signed.

“If a landlord starts talking about sending money, that’s when you should report him to us,” a spokesperson for Blocket told The Local.

In July, it was reported that a man had conned 50 Swedes to part with 400,000 kronor for items that the buyers never received using Blocket.

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Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents

German police have set up a special team to fight a growing number of forged vaccine certificates being sold in the black market

Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents
People who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Police in Cologne have warned of a group of fraudsters selling fake vaccination certificates, a growing problem the scale of which is still unclear.

The police said the fraudsters worked in encrypted Telegram chats, making investigations difficult, and were selling fake documents with all the stamps and signatures, including a mark about vaccination with BioNTech or AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: Germany probes Covid-19 testing centres for fraud

The fraud involved both real traffic in fake documents as well as scams luring customers into paying €100.

People in Germany who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Those who don’t have a booklet get a piece of paper.

Covid health passes are currently being rolled out across the EU, with a European health passport expected to be available from mid-June.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Over 44% of the adult population in Germany has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 18% of Germans have been fully vaccinated.

German police have said forged coronavirus vaccine documents are becoming an increasing problem.

Last month, a couple in Baden-Württemberg was accused of selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates.