Fraudsters Raise 39 Million For Alleged Charity, Facing 10 Years
Photo credit: CG.
Prague, July 19 (CTK) – A group of nine people collected 39 million crowns from approximately 20 000 people for an alleged charity, renting several offices, setting up call centres and hiring several people to call donors, but they kept the money, police spokeswoman Eva Kropacova reported on the web today.
Police have arrested them and they face up to 10 years in prison for fraud.
According to the police, the detainees started the fraud in 2020. First, they themselves gradually called people from a list obtained by one of them in a former job. They always told people a plausible story that they were representing a foundation and were looking for donors for a wheelchair for a disabled girl, rehabilitation aids for a sick boy or a vehicle for a seriously ill man. They promised to send potential donors gifts from the sheltered workshop where these people work, as well as a certificate of their contribution to the foundation.
If someone expressed an interest in helping the sick, the scammers would send a package home via a delivery company with a “gift” on delivery, for which they paid a pre-agreed amount. These were hundreds to several thousand crowns, which were supposed to be used as a contribution to the foundation.
“The sheltered workshop was another mere fabrication, and the items sent to them by the scammers were bought from wholesalers for absolutely ridiculous sums or made by the scammers themselves,” the spokeswoman noted.
“The moment they found out that there are many good and trusting people in our country who are willing to contribute to the sick, they started their ‘business’ in a big way,” Kropacova said.
The scammers rented offices and hired people to make phone calls to donors, receiving a share of each package paid for as a reward. “Their earnings depended on how many gullible people they could convince. With the prospect of high earnings, they did not hesitate and often used methods based on psychological pressure and emotional blackmail,” she added.
The group changed the name of the foundation several times; they were the Dreams and Hopes Foundation, the Dreams and New Hopes Foundation, and the Happy Days Kids Foundation. They set up several different non-transparent accounts belonging to their companies, where police say most of the money disappeared.
“In order to conceal their criminal activity as much as possible, the group used a small part of the laundered funds for charitable purposes, which they then presented to the public via social networks and the foundation’s website,” Kropacova said.
Criminal investigators arrested all nine people in one day at the end of June. During the searches, they seized two vehicles worth a total of approximately three million crowns, cash in transparent and non-transparent accounts worth hundreds of thousands of crowns, cash in safety deposit boxes worth more than one million crowns, and other money worth hundreds of thousands of crowns.
The detainees include six men between the ages of 21 and 29 and three women between the ages of 29 nine and 50. They are being prosecuted for fraud. “Criminal investigators have filed a motion with the prosecutor to take a total of four persons into custody. The motion was accepted for one of the accused,” the spokeswoman said.
The detectives are still working on the case and are gradually contacting all the victims. “The police know the identity of all the victims who picked up the package sent by the foundation and will gradually contact them!,” Kropacova added.