A Tunisian man who has been convicted of fraud in Greece has been extradited to Cyprus, where he is accused of conning nearly 500 people by making empty job promises in France.
Μohamet Jamel Ben Hassen, a 63-year-old Tunisian national, told local audiences in Cyprus he had a contract with a company to guarantee construction jobs in Lille, France.
Back in early summer 2013, the suspect introduced himself to Cypriot audiences as Yiorgos Krasopoulos, of G. Krasopoulos International Ltd, and signed up 470 individuals who were convinced to pay €620 upfront. The advanced fee was requested in order to get their employment contracts while another similar amount would have to be paid later on.
The suspect along with his associate Petar Gospodinov Penchev, a Bulgarian national, together managed to swindle nearly half a thousand job seekers from Larnaca, Limassol, and Famagusta districts out of a total of €290,000 during their registration period from June through September that year.
Over 70 skilled workers actually made the trip to France in 2013 where they discovered there were no jobs, no accommodation, and no contracts for them
Over 70 skilled workers actually made the trip to Lille in September 2013 where they discovered there were no jobs, no accommodation, and no contracts for them.
Penchev, and another Greek associate were arrested in Bulgaria and Serbia and later extradited to Cyprus in December 2013 while Ben Hassen was thought to have evaded capture by Cypriot authorities.
But it later emerged that the Tunisian man had already been arrested by Dutch authorities on charges of fraud and forgery when officials discovered two identification documents in his possession, one Greek and one Bulgarian, both with his photo.
Hassen told officers in Holland that he had some tax issues with Greek authorities and that his Greek ID card was invalid for that reason. It was later discovered that the real Yiorgos Krasopoulos had reported to Greek authorities that his ID card had been stolen. The documents was had been used unlawfully for social security and tax purposes in Cyprus.
The con man was also arrested in Germany with that same ID card but was later released on bail. According to media reports, officials discovered he also had a Cypriot driver’s license on him and he had told a similar story to investigators, essentially that he owed money to the Greek state which made it impossible for him to validate his ID card in Greece.
Hassen was arrested in Greece in August 2016 and a year later was sentenced by a criminal court to nine years for a series of crimes relating to fraud.
Local reports said Hassen denies that he was the mastermind behind the operation and made allegations against his associates in Cyprus and abroad. It was not clear whether he was referring to people already arrested by police or additional individuals implicated in EU-wide fruad.
CID Larnaca are investigating charges against Hassen.