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“Wicked” con-artists to get €2.8 million returned to them

A “wicked” group that defrauded elderly people looks set to walk “free” due to the expiry of judicial time-limits. The courts will also have to return all monies confiscated when the group was arrested: a total of €2.8 million. Exposing the story, Correio da Manhã explains it comes from “no one wanting to judge” the group’s appeals, and the appeals themselves taking too long to be heard.

The case, dubbed the pensions Mafia, dates back to 2012, and saw eight defendants jailed for periods of between 11 and 14 years.

They were all found guilty of defrauding pensioners in the north and centre of Portugal – in some cases leaving them with nothing.

Stories of desperation attest to one victim setting himself on fire, while others become incontinent, lost their powers of speech and suffered AVCs.

Said the prosecuting judge over three years ago, the fraudsters “ruined lives, taking everything people had and not even showing remorse when those people came into court trembling and on crutches”.

According to CM, the 67 elderly witnesses were further confused by the defendants’ changes in appearance, so that when they were asked to identify them in open court, they found it difficult.

The paper says the eight convicted fraudsters are due to be released from jail on Thursday, while judges at Vila Real court have said they cannot hold on to the money taken from the group’s bank accounts, as they “don’t know where it came from”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com