Dornach: two men must answer for love scamming

Before the Dorneck-Thierstein magistrate’s court must be from Tuesday, 1. February, a 37-year-old and a 43-year-old answer: they allegedly defrauded a wealthy woman and got her to invest millions in the older man’s company.

A wealthy woman is alleged to have been defrauded of 4.5 million francs by the defendants, according to the Solothurn prosecutor's office

According to the Solothurn public prosecutor’s office, a wealthy woman was allegedly defrauded by the defendants out of 4.5 million Swiss francs.

It is a particularly violent case of the Romance Scam, which is tried before the judge’s office Dorneck Thierstein in Dornach: A now 37-year-old man allegedly faked a love affair with a wealthy woman. According to the Solothurn prosecutor’s office, the goal had been that she invests in the company of a now 43-year-old.

The two would have fooled her with a significantly higher share value. This led them to buy shares in the company, which dealt in medical products, worth 4.5 million francs. In the end, however, the money did not flow into the company’s account, but into the pockets of the two men. In the indictment of the Solothurn prosecutor’s office, it says bluntly:

The two men had proceeded maliciously. The indictment lists that the victim was "a person without a family network with an obviously unstable personality, who was quickly and guilelessly inclined to confide in third parties".

The younger one is charged with multiple counts of fraud, embezzlement, obtaining a false notarization and theft, among others. In addition to the romance scam case, he is also accused of offenses in other cases. The elder is on trial for multiple fraud and money laundering. On the first day of the trial, the examination of a witness, the victim and the two defendants will take place. In addition, the prosecutor will make his plea. Tomorrow Wednesday, the pleas of the lawyers are on the program. The verdict will be announced at a later date.

The afternoon

After the lunch break, court president Georgia Marcionelli Gysin questions the elderly defendant. He says about his private situation that he has been married for 13 years and has two children. He is "so far, so good".

The victim had shown interest at the time to invest in his company. "I last saw them nine years ago." He said his bank had decided that the wealthy woman would take a 4.5 million franc stake in the company. The evaluation of the files had been carried out by an external company with which he had had nothing to do.

The president of the court refers to the Whatsapp correspondence of the two defendants: "In it, you describe the woman as stupid and naive as the night. One had landed a sixer in the lottery with her and will rip her off. And there is also talk of pain and suffering for the younger defendant because he would have to get involved with her."

The defendant explains:

Prosecutor: "They wanted to gut the victim like a Christmas goose"

"Now just don’t overdo it, then rip it off and introduce it to the right people. Stupid, naive as the night, and if you still really fuck them away, then we have them in the bag."The Solothurn prosecutor Domenic Fassler begins his plea with a quote from the Whatsapp chat of the two defendants.

He quotes at length from their communication. In it, they describe several times that they would like to extract money from the victim. When the 4.5 million francs arrived, they bragged about what they would spend the money on. This included such things as cars and vacations in Ticino. According to Fassler, both the brother-in-law of the older defendant and the trustee of the older had been informed of the events from the beginning.

In the spring of 2013, the two defendants as well as the older man’s company had been running on fumes. "The two had only one goal from the beginning: to fleece the victim like a Christmas goose," the prosecutor said. The older defendant was "a man who has no training in the field of medical technology, nor anywhere else". He had never wanted to make the company fly.

The defendants would have approached the victim with a clear role relationship. "The younger one was the tempestuous lover, while the older one was the serious colleague." He cites a Whatsapp message from the 37-year-old, who wrote to the wealthy woman: "Baby, I’m only here for you now."

According to her own statements, the victim inherited about 10 million Swiss francs from her father. "Their fortunes were virtually cut in half by the two defendants."There was no sense of shame on the part of the defendants, according to prosecutor Fassler. "They did everything to take the money out of the victim’s pocket."

The prosecutor demands for the elder a prison sentence of four years and two months and a fine of 140 daily rates. For the younger one he demands a prison sentence of three and a half years.

The first day of the trial ends with the demanded sentence. On Wednesday, the lawyers of the accused and the victim hold their pleas. The verdict will be announced at a later date.

The morning

First, court president Georgia Marcionelli Gysin questions a witness. He is a former employee of the private bank through which the financial transactions between the company of the elderly defendant and the wealthy woman were handled. One day, the victim had contacted the bank "completely unsettled". This had led the bank to file a suspicious activity report against the company.

The witness emphasizes that at that time the company had submitted a business plan to the bank. Moreover, he said, the company was in an emerging industry, medical technology. The bank had made inquiries about the company. For him it is clear: "Otherwise we would not have opened the customer relationship at all."

The accused had written to the victim on Facebook

After a short break the victim is questioned. The woman says at the beginning that she was indeed afraid "that there would be reprisals again". Nevertheless, she will testify. She says she was nervous. She no longer had any contact with the two men. "The two defendants I have seen nine years ago for the last time." The younger accused had written to her on Facebook in March of 2013. Shortly afterwards, she met the older man through him.

She explains that her father had been a surgeon. She says a purchase of shares in the older defendant’s company was a "good idea" at the time.

The company traded in disposable medical products. She was convinced that the company had a promising future. Over time, however, it had become clear to her that something was wrong with her investment and the company. The victim seems slightly agitated during her statements and can no longer remember many events correctly. She says: "The two men were good talkers and manipulative."

For her it was clear that the two had planned to deceive her and relieve her of money. This is clear from the Whatsapp correspondence between the two, which was shown to her. When she was written to by the younger defendant at the time, she had just broken up with her boyfriend. "He told me that, like me, he was interested in cars. We went to the car show together." Once he had brought her flowers. She had been flattered by the younger man’s embraces, she said.

Younger defendant emphasizes not to be a "love creep

Now it comes to the questioning of the younger defendant. He says he is basically doing well and is happy with his life. He has two children with his partner. The defendant makes a self-confident impression.

Recently, he had opened a car garage again after a break of several years. After a bankruptcy in 2016, he says, it "pulled the rug out from under him". He does not have any assets. But:

He met the victim on Facebook. "At that time I had a car garage with several employees. She was interested in a special car model. That is why I contacted them."When exactly he introduced the woman to his colleague, he could no longer say. He still does not know the value of the company’s shares. On the alleged love affair, he says: "We had an affair. I stand by this." But he was not a "love villain", as that had been portrayed in the media.

The president of the court points out Whatsapp messages between the two men. In it they make fun of the victim and write that they want to fleece her and that five million francs is not enough. To this the younger defendant simply says:

He is still in contact with the older defendant, he says, and they are friends. Last they would have exchanged on the night before the first day of the trial. However, this conversation was "not necessarily about the process". You have some common interests. In the afternoon the older defendant is questioned.

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