Home » 72-year-old victim of friendship fraud demands 168,000 euros in damages (Domestic)

72-year-old victim of friendship fraud demands 168,000 euros in damages (Domestic)

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A 72-year-old woman who was the victim of friendship fraud is claiming 168,000 euros in damages from five ‘money mules’ before the criminal court of Antwerp. They had made their account available to a scammer who had cheated the victim of money for four years. The public prosecutor demanded eighteen months’ imprisonment for the five defendants.

The victim had responded to an email from a certain ‘James’ in 2017 and then started exchanging messages with him via WhatsApp. The man managed to win her trust and also declared his love for her. He then started asking for money to come and visit her, to save his family from financial distress, to pay for his daughter’s college expenses, etc. James was also sick at some point and sent her a photo from his hospital bed with the request to transfer money. In four years, he managed to cheat her out of no less than 164,180 euros with all those excuses.

In 2021, the victim filed a complaint. The investigation showed that she had transferred the money to a dozen bank accounts, mostly in Cyprus. Five account holders were identified and are now being prosecuted for fraud. According to the prosecutor, they had knowingly made their accounts available to an organization that defrauds people. For each money mule, eighteen months in prison, a 1,600 euro fine and the forfeiture of the amount of money deposited were demanded. Their clients could not be identified.

Zelzate

Only one of the money mules comes from Belgium. The 35-year-old woman from Zelzate received 45,000 euros into her account and had it transferred two days later. She stated at first that she knew nothing. She later said she made her account available to a family friend. She was staying in the country illegally, could not open her own account and therefore wanted to deposit 45,000 euros into her account to purchase a car. “She did not know that the money came from criminal activities and was therefore tricked,” argued her lawyer, who asked for the acquittal. The other defendants are absent.

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The victim is demanding 164,180 euros in material and 4,000 euros in moral damages. “She was emotionally abused and is still suffering the consequences. Her trust was deeply damaged,” her lawyer said. Verdict on April 12.

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