NEWS

Insurance fraud victim named

Authorities in northern Greece yesterday identified a migrant worker murdered on Wednesday in what police say was a family plot to collect a 1.5 million-euro insurance policy after staging a fatal car accident. In cooperation with their counterparts in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, police were able to establish that the woman found dead in a partly burnt car off a northern Greek highway was Violeta Velianovska, 46, from the town of Bitola. The four suspects arrested in western Macedonia over the past two days – a couple of struggling Greek restaurateurs from Germany and two of their five children – had already told officers that their victim was a FYROM national. Velianovska was picked from a group of women who expressed an interest in working for Alexandros and Maria Kessopoulos as domestic help, due to her close resemblance to Maria Kessopoulos – who had taken out the life insurance plan with a German firm in June. The couple, aided by their 18-year-old son, Ilias, allegedly drugged Velianovska and put her in the driver’s seat of a rented car which they set on fire and pushed down a slope. But the fire soon burnt out as all the car’s doors and windows were closed, and Velianovska died of petrol fume poisoning. Once police – initially fooled by the identity swap – established this, they quickly closed in on the family, who eventually confessed. Officers were helped by the fact that Alexandros Kessopoulos had burns on his hands and face. Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that a Russian woman in her 40s narrowly escaped Velianovska’s fate in October. Police said the woman (also lured by a job promise) realized that something was wrong and phoned a friend on her mobile phone, forcing the family to abandon her on a northern roadside.