Prague police detain foreign students accused of fraud, money laundering

Police in Prague have arrested a group of 10 students accused of running an organized online scam and laundering its proceeds. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 27.05.2023 09:57:00 (updated on 27.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Ten foreigners, identified as university students living in Prague, have been detained following an investigation over money laundering associated with internet fraud, Czech police announced on their website yesterday.

According to Jan Rybanský, a spokesperson for Prague police, approximately CZK 1.5 million were involved in the illegal activities. The funds were obtained from 12 women who believed they were sending money to a doctor on a UN mission.

The accused individuals either spent the money or transferred it abroad. They are currently in custody and, if convicted, could face prison sentences ranging from two to eight years for their involvement in fraud and laundering money obtained from criminal activities.

The police investigation into this case began last October after receiving alerts from the Financial Analytical Office regarding suspicions of criminal behavior.

The accused individuals had transferred the fraudulently obtained funds into their bank accounts and attempted to conceal the money's origin through their actions, making it challenging or even impossible to trace its source, Rybanský explained.

Rybanský emphasized that these types of scams are not uncommon in the Czech Republic. Scammers typically target women on social media who publicly reveal their divorced or single status. They assume various personas, such as soldiers on missions in Afghanistan, miners on oil platforms, or doctors on UN missions, in order to elicit a women's interest.

They employ systematic psychological pressure to convince their victims to send money for a supposed meeting. Despite harboring suspicions, many victims comply with the scammers' requests, resulting in monetary losses, Rybanský elaborated.

In a related case, South Moravian police, in collaboration with customs officers, recently apprehended a Czech woman suspected of laundering money obtained through an internet scam on behalf of a group operating in Austria. Similar to the aforementioned case, the funds originated from women who fell victim to sophisticated romance scams online.

The total amount of money involved in this case exceeded 11 million crowns, and numerous individuals were affected by the fraud, Pavel Sváb, spokesperson for South Moravian police, told media in mid-May. The scammers, including their ringleader, were apprehended in January, and legal proceedings were initiated in Austria.

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