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Police anti-grey market measure: Tip-offs wanted on under 6-euro pizzas

Police are requesting citizens to inform them of pizzerias that offer their meals at less than 6 euros each. Their campaign is directed mainly at social media, where people have been quick to ridicule the seemingly trivial measure, but one which the authorities say is the first decisive step towards rooting out the country's grey economy.

"Ihana pizzantuoksu leijuu laatikosta, hetken kuluttua pääsen herkuttelemaan", kirjoittivat poliisin talousrikostutkijat Anne ja Jutta Suomen poliisin Facebook-sivulle lokakuun 12. päivä. Samalla he kysyivät, "jäikö kuitti saamatta pizzanhakureissulla?" Alle kuuden euron pizzojen etsiminen käynnisti poliisin kaikkien aikojen ensimmäisen harmaaseen talouteen keskittyvän somekampanjan. Image: Yle

Police are asking people to report sightings of pizza restaurants that offer pizzas at less than 6 euros as an anti-grey market measure.

"We need tips from citizens. You can post them on our web site or contact us on social media. Unless a pizza is on temporary sale there is no way a legitimate establishment can offer pizza at less than 6 euros," claims Minna Immonen from the Uusimaa police department.

The social media call for help caused confusion on Monday as members of the public thought that "Anne" and "Jutta" – real financial crime researchers working with the police – were fake officers posting through a bogus Twitter account. Immonen is their supervisor.

No more 3.90 euro pizzas

The few weeks the campaign is scheduled to last will be followed by further measures to combat the grey economy and unlawful financial activities. Police say that instead of arousing outrage their pizza campaign should entice the public to work with them, not least of all because the issue represents millions of dodged tax euros.

"It's important to remind people that a low price is not the only indicator, and that not being offered or given a receipt is another red flag people should be aware of," says Immonen. "As nice as a cheap pizza seems, especially with food prices as high as they are, too cheap and it makes it possible for some entrepreneurs to hatch money-grabbing schemes."

Police surveillance has already removed some of the wildest discounts from menus. Detective Inspector Immonen says that the lowest price she has encountered was a 3.90 euro pizza in Pasila, Helsinki.

Police have illustrated the cost of making a single pizza as part of their anti-grey market campaign. They graphically show that a third of the cost goes towards ingredients, 36.5 percent is spent on wages, 11.5 percent on VAT, 9.6 percent on rents, while other fees represent 8 percent of the total cost.

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