An elaborate scam developed by a 45-year-old Austrian resident scammed people out of hundreds of thousands before the police got scent of the scheme and brought it down.
Impersonating Hungarian Workers
The unnamed man from Burgenland who reportedly cheated numerous Hungarian workers swindled the money to fund his gambling habit and cryptocurrency investments. His hunting ground was in social media while his targets were Hungarians who had worked in Austria in the past.
The first sign of the elaborate scam was in January this year when a 24-year-old Hungarian seasonal worker went to the police station to report himself as a victim of a scammer.
A Hungarian speaker himself, the fraudster got the names and dates of birth of his victims from their social media profiles, predominantly from Facebook.
He then managed to impersonate the victims in phone calls with the Austrian tax authorities and managed to redirect tax return payments away from the victim’s bank accounts and into the accounts of several other individuals who he had paid to grant him access to their bank accounts.
Utilizing this scheme for just over two years between March 2020 and April 2022, the scammer had diverted payments totaling €280,000 ($291,200), according to evidence gathered by the investigators.
Loans from Friends and Cryptocurrency Investments
But this scheme was not the only one he had designed to swindle other people’s money, investigators found out, as between 2005 and 2022, he engaged in a much simple scam such as asking for money due to financial emergencies and never returning the loans, taking money from 16 other victims some of who his friends.
Once he ran out of people willing to loan him money, he designed another scam, involving investments in the crypto space and promising fast profits for his victims, some of who believed him to even take out loans to make the investments. A total of €220,000 ($228,800) was the estimated damage he had incurred to his victims under this scam.
The scammer was brought down with the help of a company in charge of identity protection for customers, A-Trust, which was affected by the scammer’s impersonation of the Hungarian workers.
The 49-year-old man was pressed with multiple charges, including fraud, money laundering, theft and others, while those individuals who had offered him their bank accounts to divert the stolen tax returns were charged with money laundering.