Big stock scam is foiled

An alert bank manager thwarted Greece’s biggest financial fraud in recent years, police said yesterday, adding that three suspects almost got away with cashing in 8.5 million euros’ worth of shares they had swindled from an 103-year-old man. The two unnamed men, aged 46 and 49, were arrested at a bank near Omonia Square in central Athens on Monday after trying to cash in shares and collect a check worth 1.03 million euros using a fake identification card. Officers said the pair convinced Panayiotis Manousis, a founding member of the Athens Bar Association, to give them a number of personal documents. Armed with these papers and with the help of another elderly man who pretended to be the centenarian Manousis, one of the suspects approached the stockbrokerage where the former lawyer held an 8.5-million-euro portfolio. The fake Manousis claimed the man was his nephew and that he wanted to pass on the portfolio to him. The stockbrokers did not suspect anything as the man pretending to be Manousis’s nephew produced an identification card with the same surname. The shares were then transferred to another firm, where the suspect pretending to be Manousis’s nephew had already opened an account using his fake identity. Between August 3 and 11, the alleged fraudsters then cashed in 3.04 million euros’ worth of shares. Police said they were looking for a third suspect in connection with the alleged fraud. They said the suspects had checked Manousis into an Athens retirement home.