Fraudsters siphoned €96,000 from Montepio account holders – and one remains ‘free’

The elaborate phishing scheme is alleged to have swindled 16 Montepio bank account holders out of €96,000 – “a large part of which has not been recovered”.

The ‘good news’ is that the suspected fraudsters have been identified: two Brazilians and an Argentine. And because two were arrested “in flagrante”, they are awaiting trial behind bars.

One of the gang members however (Brazilian Bruno Hermenegildo), is free to enjoy the summer before the trial gets underway.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã explains that police are “still trying to identify” all the accomplices who received money removed from 16 people’s accounts.

The victims live in Lisbon, Porto, Olhão, Aveiro and Guimarães, says the paper.

What happened is fairly ‘text book’ in as much as CM claims the men created a fake Montepio site on which they asked clients to update their ‘homebanking data’.

Judicial police are “still trying to identify” the IT experts who produced the page, as they will also be trying to discover how the men managed to get personal emails of Montepio clients.

The scam is alleged to have run for just one month (January 8 to February 3, 2016) and there is no explanation for why the case has taken so long to be given a court date (September 19, in Porto).

The reason for Porto being chosen as the trial location is that this was the city where the first complaint was filed to police, says CM.

Meantime, “some of the victims have advanced with claims for compensation, not just against the suspects but also against Montepio”.

According to the paper, the fake site was “almost identical” to that of the banking institution. “It looked really genuine” and “the emails sent to the 16 victims used a technical language that was very similar to that normally used by banks”.

PJ anti-corruption police on the trail of the men managed to arrest two on a shopping spree for IT equipment in Lisbon.

“The material had been acquired directly through the account of one of the victims that lives in Porto”, explained CM – adding that house searches of the two men revealed drugs, for which the pair are now facing separate trafficking charges.

[email protected]