Police warn public after court frees couple suspected of online fraud

Häme police have warned the public about a couple freed on bail by Kanta-Häme District Court. The couple are suspected of wide-scale fraud perpetrated via online marketplaces, and police believe they could continue their phantom product sales spree.

The Häme couple are suspected of committing more than 45 offences. Image: Miki Wallenius / Yle

A couple in Häme have been freed by a court after a judge rejected police demands that they be remanded in custody over a spate of online fraud. The scam involves products the duo are suspected of offering for sale in online marketplaces with no intention of ever delivering the products. 

Police suspect around 50 people have fallen victim to the couple—and that the pair might well continue their fraudulent habits after the court decided to free them.

"It's not the police's job to criticise the District Court's decision," said Riku Vihtilä of Häme police. "Remanding in custody would have been an effective way of preventing new crimes being committed. What could have been done at this stage has been done."

One of the suspects had been placed under a travel ban, but police pointed out that such a measure would not prevent the occurence of additional offences.

Police say that new reports of crimes possibly committed by the pair come to light daily. At present some 45 phantom product sales are under investigation.

Court rejects police argument

Products offered by the pair apparently include Finland's famed 'baby box', mobile phones and computers. The twosome were in police custody for two days, and have admitted some of the offences, but will continue to be interviewed by police.

Police asked Kanta-Häme District Court to remand the suspects in custody to break what they saw as a cycle of criminal activity, and to prevent them continuing their fraudulent sales.

The court rejected that argument however, ruling that there were not sufficient grounds to remand the couple in custody.

Now Häme police are warning possible purchasers of products that they should delay transferring funds until they confirm the existence of the products they want to buy.