Greek pays dear for old dollars

Taipei (AFP) – A Greek man claiming to be a relative of late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis has lost millions of dollars in an investment scam by a Taiwan-based ring, police said yesterday. Tryfon Kolovinas, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Tryfon Holdings Ltd, told Taiwan’s TVBS that five Taiwanese – one of whom has been arrested – won his trust by taking advantage of his interest in old US dollar bills. Kolovinas claimed Onassis is his mother’s cousin and that he used to work as a financier for Onassis, the China Times reported. He said the suspects had taken him to a cave in Taipei where he was shown boxes they claimed contained old dollar bills worth hundreds of millions of dollars today. Kolovinas signed a contract on January 25, 2002 with the ring, which promised to finance his company to the tune of $500 million for a 20-percent return over a 13-month period. He claimed to have spent $3.5 million to prepare for the investment, only to find that a certificate of deposit presented by the ring was bogus. He also had to pay $35 million in compensation to banks.