João de Almeida (the cook).jpg

Conman ‘on run from Portugal’ caught-out in Brazil by Facebook

Yet more proof of both the value and disadvantages of social media came today with news that a Portuguese conman who fled the country four years ago following a €600,000 insurance scam has been arrested in Brazil “after his victims caught him on Facebook”.

Jornal de Notícias explains that João de Almeida is accused of fraud, abuse of confidence, falsification and the issuing of cheques which he knew would not clear.

He is reported to be behind bars at the Federal Department of the State of Amazonia, awaiting extradition to Portugal.

De Almeida’s alleged descent into crime began in 2004 when he launched a fraudulent scheme with the help of an aunt, who “only realised five years later that she had lost all the money (€45,000) that she invested”.

Along the way, Almeida managed to hoodwink scores of others with the promise of lucrative annual payouts on investment packages.

Then, very suddenly, João de Almeida disappeared.

As seems to happen far too often, the investigation into his con thus hit a brick wall.

Enter ‘social media’ and some dedicated sleuthing: De Almeida set up a restaurant business, with its own internet page and Facebook identity, in Manaus – described by the Lonely Planet tourist guide as “an incongruous pocket of urbanity in the middle of the jungle”.

Possibly lulled into a false sense of security, he started posting photographs.

The attached is one of a number that alerted his smarting victims, who in turn got in touch with authorities in Brazil.

Perhaps if anything it shows that ‘even in the middle of the Amazonian jungle’, we are always being watched…

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Photo: João de Almeida posing with a group of diners at Cozinha do Português (Facebook)