The members of the ring dismantled by the police are now being prosecuted for a series of serious crimes, and among them is “Maximos Sarafis”who is appearing as a protected witness in the Novartis case.
In particular, the Athens District Attorney’s Office brought a felony and misdemeanor criminal prosecution against “Maximos Safaris” and six other people. The prosecution is for the offenses of forming a criminal organization, fraud, forgery and money laundering.
It should be noted that they have been arrested for the case three defendants and are sought after four other persons involved.
After the prosecution, the case was referred to an investigator.
How he cheated businessmen
THE “Maximos Sarafis” – by world Philistor Destepesidis allegedly he was the mastermind of ecriminal organization that defrauded businessmen.
In particular, Mr 50-year-old former Novartis Communications Manager and two other persons – a 63-year-old and a 65-year-old – under the guise of favorable lending attracted various victims – mainly businessmen who wanted a loan.
“Maximos Sarafis” together with the other two had founded a company based in Dubai, whose offices were housed in the University in the center of Athens. This company was used by those facing credit problems, since the perpetrators promised cheap loans and arrangements. A necessary condition, however, for the entrepreneurs to receive the approximately 15 million euros from a United Arab Emirates bank was that the prospective borrowers pay a commission of 100,000 euros plus 18,500 euros for envelope costs plus 55,000 euros for loan security.
So far seven victims have been confirmed, however the police are looking for another 20. The economic damage suffered by the victims is estimated at 800,000 – 1,000,000 euros.
Among the victims are an Athens hotelier, a cheese merchant, a restaurant entrepreneur and a gaming software company owner.
The police began looking into the case last September following a complaint, while at the beginning of December the authorities identified “Maximo Sarafi”. The spiral also involved three Indians living in Dubai posing as company employees to communicate and reassure the “customers”.
In fact, they were so convincing that when the Police told the businessmen that “you have fallen victim to fraud” they did not believe them, accusing them of wanting to spoil their lending.
In detail, the announcements of the Police on the case:
“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
Today’s presentation concerns the dismantling of a criminal organization, the members of which committed fraud and forgery against businessmen under the guise of intermediation for the disbursement of loans from a non-existent, as it turned out, financial company allegedly based in the United Arab Emirates.
In order to deconstruct the organization, a coordinated police operation was carried out yesterday (Tuesday, January 24, 2023) by the Property Rights Protection Department of the Attica Security Directorate, in the context of which three citizens, members of the organization, were arrested, including the chief .
This is an organization that has been operating for at least the last two years with a particular method and organization and aimed at “business people”. Its members appeared as their “saviors” from the difficult economic international conditions, which had destroyed their creditworthiness and, consequently, their ability to be financed by domestic financial institutions.
In particular, they were looking for entrepreneurs who wished to receive a loan, but did not have the lending guarantees from the domestic financial institutions. They therefore proposed as an alternative their direct lending from banking institutions of the United Arab Emirates or through the mediation of the non-existent company, for which they presented to their victims imaginary cases of successful lending to other Greek companies.
In fact, in order to be completely believable, they had developed a multi-layered mechanism, which acted as a deterrent in the event of their illegal activity being discovered, as in each case they activated a different “tool”, which reassured the challenger and provided the organization with time credit.
Indicatively, this mechanism included the creation of websites, the creation of e-mail accounts of supposed executives of the non-existent company, the creation of UAE-based “loan insurance” companies, the creation and management of bank accounts of UAE financial institutions, the preparation and distribution of fake certificates, visual material in supposed offices with persons of the board of directors of the non-existent company and other inventive actions.
The profit from the aforementioned criminal activity came mainly from the collection, from the victims, of the fee of the leading member, as the direct representative of the non-existent company in our country, as well as the money “required” for the insurance of the supposed loan and the consequent taxes to the “Tax Authority of the United Arab Emirates”.
From the investigation so far, seven (7) cases of fraud have been discovered, from which the members of the criminal organization obtained approximately 800,000 euros, while the threatened loss exceeds 1,000,000 euros.
At this point I would like to congratulate the officers of the Property Rights Protection Department for the months-long, methodical and meticulous investigation they carried out, which admittedly had a great degree of difficulty in the pre-investigative stage of gathering information from the United Arab Emirates as well as for its successful completion with yesterday’s business.
More details will be presented to you by the Press Spokesperson of the Hellenic Police, Constable II Demoglidou Constantia.
Statements of the Press Representative of the Hellenic Police, Police Officer II Constantias Demoglidos:
As Mr. Governor mentioned, a criminal organization was dismantled by the Property Rights Protection Department of the Attica Security Directorate, whose members were defrauding businessmen under the guise of mediation for the disbursement of loans.
Against the three (3) members of the organization, who were arrested, as well as against four (4) more people, a criminal case was filed, for criminal organization, money laundering, fraud and forgery committed and attempted conspiracy and repeatedly.
As it emerged from the investigation, the above, having co-decided to commit misdemeanors and felonies, united and formed a criminal organization with continuous, structured and distinct roles and, with the aim of obtaining illegal income, for more than two years, committed criminal frauds and forgeries in burden of businessmen.
In more detail, a leading role in the action of the criminal organization was held by an arrested member with a long professional career, as a consultant for business, marketing, investments, etc.
Through the breadth of his social and professional circle, he sought prospective borrowers, usually business owners, who did not have the lending guarantees of domestic financial institutions. Then, taking advantage of their dire financial situation or their need for immediate business development, he presented as an alternative solution their lending directly from banking institutions of the United Arab Emirates or through the mediation of the non-existent company, of which he appeared as a representative in our country.
The other two arrested appeared as associates of the leading member and as knowledgeable about the special conditions of financial transactions in the United Arab Emirates and especially of the non-existent company. In fact, one of them, in order to strengthen the image of authority, claimed that he had lived in the country for a number of years or that his wife worked for the non-existent company in question, respectively, assuming the role of a mediator, ready to provide solutions to any problem that arose.
He also played an important role in the forgery of documents used by the criminal organization, as in his possession were found seals of companies and persons, a stamp matrix with removable digits-Greek and Latin characters, signature impressions, various prints of company logos and executive signatures, pieces of paper of company seals and signatures of their executives pasted on A4 stickers, etc.
Of the co-accused, three (3) foreigners appeared as executives of the non-existent company and reassured the victims in case of doubts about the validity of the process, while the fourth co-accused managed the bank accounts where the victims’ money ended up.
It is worth noting that, in addition to the non-existent company and in order to make the whole project seem even more plausible, the members of the organization had also set up insurance companies in the United Arab Emirates, into whose bank accounts the victims deposited the sums of money related to the loan costs.
The whole process took place following the instructions of the leading member and his accomplices, who in various phases of their criminal activity delivered to their victims forged documents, documents and certificates, with which they convinced them of the validity and legality of their activities.
From the searches carried out, among others, the following were found and seized:
• 15,500 euros,
• five laptops, mobile phones, printer and tablet,
• stamp plate/matrix consisting of detached numbers, Greek letters, punctuation marks and symbols,
• manual seals and seal impression,
• documents with designs of signatures and seals,
• documents with affixed pieces of paper with signatures and seals,
• printed electronic messages,
• documents related to the defunct company, handwritten notes and various contracts between natural or legal persons.
The arrested were taken to the competent prosecutor’s office, while investigations to ascertain the full extent of their criminal activity are ongoing.”
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