Suspects could get up to 4 years for medical masks scam
The Public Prosecutor demanded 4 and 3 years in prison against two men suspected scamming two buyers trying to purchase medical masks for a foreign government agency. According to the Public Prosecutor, the men took advantage of the coronavirus crisis and the scarcity of protective gear to enrich themselves. They managed to scam the foreign agency into paying them nearly 900 thousand euros for masks that did not exist.
The suspects told the foreign government agency that they could sell it 11 million face masks for an amount of 4.4 million euros. The foreign agency made a down payment of 880 thousand euros into the account of a company belonging to one of the suspects. Only the masks never existed.
The down payment was partly withdrawn in cash, and the rest was transferred into bank accounts in the Netherlands and abroad, the Prosecutor said. False documents were drawn up to declare where the money came from, and the entire amount was laundered.
Thanks to involved banks' vigilance, a large part of the laundered money could be recovered, the Prosecutor said.
The Prosecutor accused the suspects of profiteering from this pandemic. "The buyer of the mouth masks, in this case a foreign government organization, wanted to protect its care providers and organize protective equipment for them. Care providers who, like the care providers in the Netherlands, are in the front lines to protect the population and to care for the sick in this crisis." Due to the scarcity and massive demand for protective gear, the foreign agency did not do its usual background checks and fell into these two suspects' trap.
The two men are charged with fraud, forgery and money laundering in the period from early March to early April this year. The Prosecutor demanded an unconditional prison sentence of 4 years against the first suspect, and an unconditional prison sentence of 3 years against the second man. The Prosecutor also wants the company used to receive the money to be fined 250 thousand euros.