NEWS

2 charged over bogus bribe scam

Two former convicts have been arrested for allegedly using unsuspecting doubles of a senior government official to trick businessmen into giving them tens of thousands of euros in kickbacks which would supposedly ensure the victims lucrative state contracts or loans, police said yesterday. The scam collapsed when one of the victims visited the official, Cabinet Secretary Socrates Cosmidis, to complain that the bribe had got him nowhere. Police say the two suspects, who both have prison records for fraud, and a third man, against whom an arrest warrant has been issued, invoked their supposed connections with Cosmidis, National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karadzas and a fictional Jewish-American businessman named Sammy to milk at least three businessmen of 161,000 euros in four months. To back up their stories, the suspects used photographs showing them in the company of politicians – taken at various functions they managed to attend – or tricked two unsuspecting friends of theirs, both of whom resemble Cosmidis, into accompanying them in car rides.