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German man blames fake invoice scam on Facebook friend

By Rachael Williams

A 42-year-old German man has appeared in court in Salzburg accused of sending 3,830 fraudulent invoices and pocketing 46,000 Euro.

The court heard how the man had sent false invoices to Germany between February and June of 2012.

The notices were sent to ex-offenders in the name of a fictitious gambling organisation called „Cleverwin 25" and urged recipients to settle outstanding payments by immediately transferring 185.46 Euro.

The District Attorney then told the court how the man had sent a second and then a third letter to those who did not immediately transfer the money. In these following letters, he warned recipients of higher repayment fees should they not comply. Despite being questioned by the police, the man did not stop sending the notices.

Countless recipients transferred the amount despite not actually having taken part in any gambling. The District Attorney explained that a total of 46,000 Euro made its way into the man’s bank account.

The man pleaded not guilty to the charges. In his own defence he presented an elaborate story to the court, explaining that he had sent the letters under the orders of a customer called Jon Martinez – a Filipino whom the man had gotten to know at a poker tournament. Martinez had apparently requested that the man took over sending the letters. In February 2012 the 42-year-old man then registered a trading company called „Inkasso-Betreibung" and set about his business. The man said: „I then received my instructions from Jon Martinez over Facebook."

The Filipino provided him with a master copy of the letter to be used, together with an Excel table of the addresses to which the letters would be sent. The total of the invoice plus 10 per cent would be sent to the Filipino and the 42-year-old was told he could keep the rest.

The man said: „At that time I just wanted to earn something." However, the man did not have an address or a telephone number for his Filipino contact and so all of their communication had to take place over Facebook and Skype. His defence lawyer told the court: „There is no reason to doubt that this task was delegated." Besides his small wage, no money remained. The accused said that the money for Martinez was picked up by an unknown Filipino woman who issued him with his confirmation of payment.

In order to verify the accuracy of these statements, the District Attorney requested the expert opinion of a graphologist to determine whether the man had forged the receipt himself. The trial was then adjourned for an indefinite period of time.

The man’s computer has also disappeared and was reportedly discarded before he was supposed to take it to the police for a data analysis. The man defended himself by saying: „Unfortunately, I knocked the PC off the table whilst I was cleaning and it broke. I couldn’t get it to switch back on."

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