An agent of the former German Democratic Republic, a false diplomat and alleged notary are the main characters in a fraudulent million coup that surpasses all previous records.
The plan seemed perfect: In September last year a nationally operating rogue gang succeeded in robbing the stock portfolio of a wealthy woman from Cologne, in total 23 million euros. However, because the greed of fraudsters was immense, they made a serious mistake and therefore called the prosecutor on to the plan. The money was finally saved. Now the sextet is brought before court for the process.
A short look back: The order seems routine, a simple fax formula which enters on September, 13th – 2002 in the Frankfurt headquarters of a banking institution by fax. The magnitude of the order does not leave the bank employees twitch in the securities department batting.
23 million euros should be transferred from the personal account of a wealthy woman from Cologne to a Munich-based company. That’s the order that comes from the Cologne branch of the bank. The contract on behalf of the rich cologne woman seems correct at first glance. The legitimacy stamp required are contained in the letter – and falsified, as it turns out later. Just press a button on the computer is sufficient, and the job is done online. A clerk types in the numbers, his colleague checked against the input – that’s it. No piece of paper confirming a multi-million contract, a customary procedure in the equities business.
To this day, the original of the fax remains disappeared, together with the original order. The fax machine has been manipulated, as it turned out later. Any proof has been completely deleted. An indication that there must have been an accomplice in the bank in Frankfurt. For the investigators this seems to be sure.
Not even 12 hours passed and the millions are credited to the account of the new owner – it is a Munich-based company, which later went bankrupt.
The fraudsters feel assured: it will be a hard to follow the money, that’s what they thought. In their boundless greed, however, the perpetrators are cocky. The fraudsters from Munich take their time and wanted to wait until September 22nd anyhow because of the upcoming election. In case of an elected Edmund Stoiber they expected the share to climb up and multiply in value.
But they did not expect that the bank doubled checked the operation just a few days after the transfer. Just over a week after the illegal transaction, the financial institution from the Frankfurt office in Cologne sends a billing sheet. Thus the order is confirmed.
“Thank you for the transfer” is in the form in which the amount (traded millions) including the names of the sender and recipients listed. The employees in the Cologne branch offset the notification immediately.
Within an hour police and prosecutors are alerted. The court ordered to confiscate the account. The money was saved. Immediately the undercover operations run initiated by the public prosecutor in Cologne: observation, Wiretapping, the whole program.
All member of the gang thought to be safe and ready to receive the money within a few day. All banks were in formed and “played” the game, nevertheless neglecting money transfers on behalf of “technical problems”. The investigators quickly realized what a “big fish” they are about to catch.
The trail leads to Wolfgang H. (44), a lawyer in Berlin, who´s license was revoked years ago. In the course of an inspections and search, the officials find material for interception, wiretapping and much more. Obviously, the gang had spied the central computer of the credit institution for months. They gathered a lot of information including the details that the woman from Cologne owned “blue chips” (worth millions): top stocks, which can be sold within a short period of time in Germany.
Wolfgang H., former intelligence official and a lawyer at the State Security Service, had successfully established a law office in Berlin after the fall of the wall. Because of repeated computer fraud on a big scale, he was sentenced to jail for a few years. Loosing is license as a lawyer.
And the trail leads also leads to J. W. (37), an alleged counselor of the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. He is the business partner of a man who for the is in jail in France waiting for his extradition to Germany. It is probably the head of the gang, named Holger Thorsten Schubart from Göttingen. He cheated banks, tax authorities and different companies, at least by 16 million euros. The Million Euros deal in Cologne he initiated and controlled from jail, as he sat in France in custody pending extradition during this time.
The gang was confident to received the money. Through an alleged Dutch Heritage Community they wanted to transfer the millions. An address of a notary in the Netherlands was deposited. This notary was supposed to receive the money. But upon closer inspection, the notary is none at all, but, according to investigation files an in-bond construction worker who acted as CEO for dozens of fraudsters company of rogue gang.
Just four weeks later, the fraudsters were arrested and since then sitting in jail. Nonw of the involved parties is about to confes. They see themselves as victims of a criminal group themselves.