Alex T., the head of a criminal organisation that caused damage of a whopping 1.2 billion forints (EUR 3,341,699) to about 500 victims in seven years, was arrested in a luxury apartment in the Dominican Republic. The identity of the man was unknown even to his accomplices.
The Budapest Metropolitan Police has been investigating a criminal organisation specialising in real estate fraud since November 2017. After years of investigation and international cooperation (the FBI, Europol, and the Dominican authorities were also involved in the investigation), Alex T., the head of the organisation, who was hiding under the name Dominik C. for years, was finally caught in the Dominican Republic and was transported to Budapest, writes Police.
Alex T. coordinated the fraud via the internet and a mobile phone, completely avoiding face-to-face meetings, so he was able to preserve his anonymity.
The 30-year-old man advertised and rented real estate on the internet on behalf of Hungarian companies without the owners’ knowledge.
Later, his methods became increasingly sophisticated and organised, and he managed to conduct real estate transactions with the buyers losing their money and never becoming owners.
In the first few years (from June 2014 to May 2017), Alex T. conducted numerous real estate scams by asking for rent or an upfront payment as earnest money.
He usually copied the data and photos of different flats from real estate websites or booking sites and then published his own advertisement on behalf of an existing company. The man employed assistants to meet tenants through fraudulent job advertisements in which he offered extremely favourable salaries and working conditions,
emphasises 24. Most of his employees had no idea about the fraud in the background, while others became complicit. After the tenants signed the necessary statements, the assistants collected the rent and the earnest money. At the request of Alex T., the assistants opened bank accounts, then withdrew the money from the account and paid it into their boss’s account.
In 2017, the man changed his method and presumably posted real estate advertisements on behalf of companies until early 2019, but this time, he offered the apartments for sale. He usually selected the flats on a booking site, and his accomplice, Viktor V., rented the selected apartments. Alex T. told the potential buyers that the owner of the property was abroad, and the assistants showed them the apartments.
In order to prove that their intention to purchase was serious, buyers had to transfer the purchase price to a notarial escrow account in advance. The buyers were then called by another accomplice who, abusing the name of a well-known lawyer, assured them that the sale and purchase were legal.
The Budapest Metropolitan Police received numerous complaints, and proceedings were initiated in both the capital and in the countryside. In 2019, based on the similarities and connections in the criminal methods, the Budapest Metropolitan Police set up a team to investigate the case. Based on the digital footprint of the perpetrators, the investigators collected more and more details connected to the case and identified the members of the organisation.
Over the course of two years, the Economic Crime Department of the Budapest Metropolitan Police interrogated 130 people as suspects and uncovered 487 crimes that are all connected to Alex T.
After identifying Alex T. as the leader of the organisation that was operated from the Dominican Republic, the investigating team issued an international arrest warrant against him in April 2019. The suspects were prosecuted for fraud, money laundering, breach of information or data, falsifying public records, and the use of false private documents.
Source: police.hu, 24.hu