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Germany: Court hears 'blatant' COVID aid fraud case

January 11, 2021

The trial of a suspect accused of making scores of fraudulent coronavirus aid claims is underway in Munich. The defendant allegedly made claims for a mix of real and invented companies.

Euro notes, and a hand
The suspect apparently tried to transfer the cash via cryptocurrency to London, and was in part successfulImage: picture-alliance/J. Kalaene

The trial began in Munich on Monday of a man accused of attempting to defraud various states across Germany of some €2.54 million ($3.08 million) in coronavirus aid payments.

The 31-year-old Tayfun Y. only received cash from three of the 91 applications that he made — from Berlin, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg — but that still amounted to €67,776.

For the remaining cases, the payments to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic were successfully prevented.

What were the fraudulent claims?

Prosecutors say the defendant had used partly fictitious and partly real companies. Many of them were in the food and catering sector.

Among the businesses were bakeries, restaurants, and döner shops, the website of news magazine Focus reported. The suspect was said to have used false names for owners of the businesses.

The most significant amount of cash the defendant is accused of seeking to extract from any one state was some €1.1 million in the 23 applications he made in Bavaria. However, he made the largest number of requests, 32, in North Rhine-Westphalia, which that totaled some €784,000. Next was Berlin, with 24 claims at just under €356,000.

Tayfun Y. also made claims in the states of Hesse and Saarland.

The claims are said to have been made between the end of March and the end of April 2020. The fraud was discovered in May and the man was arrested and held in custody.

'An absolute success for investigators'

By the time the case became public in June, Munich's senior public prosecutor Hildegard Bäumler-Hösl enthused to journalists that it had been: "An absolute success for the investigators. The most blatant case we have uncovered so far."

In a search of the man's parents' apartment in North-Rhine-Westphalia, investigators found documents with false identities, different SIM cards, and various credit cards.

According to the public prosecutor's office, the suspect had intended to transfer the money from an account at a local bank via  foreign cryptocurrency to his home in London, and succeeded in doing so with some €36,000.

Prison sentences for such cases of fraud would normally be for a maximum of 5 years, but particularly aggravated cases can carry terms of up to 10 years.

Further fraud

In addition, the DPA news agency reported, another charge against the man came to light on Monday.

From pretrial detention in the summer, he is said to have tried to make claims for sums that ranged from €250,000 to €1.7 million against his public defender at the time, the public prosecutor and several other people.

As a result, the prosecutor's office is also accusing him of attempted computer fraud.

rc/rt (AFP, dpa)

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