Proceedings began on Tuesday in the court case of a group of people who presented themselves as police officers in order to scam elderly people out of 800,000 euros over the phone. The trial started with a surprising turn of events, with three of the five main suspects recanting earlier confessions.
A total of 41 individuals are facing charges as suspects in the case, which is being heard at North Savo District Court in central Finland's city of Kuopio.
The accused are charged with posing as police officers on the phone in order to procure people's bank codes and steal their money. Officials suspect that more than 120 crimes were committed, and that the swindle totalled some 800,000 euros.
The prosecutor said in order to target their elderly marks, the scammers sought out individuals in the phone book with first names which were more common in earlier generations. In a few cases, some victims lost their entire savings. For example, a 79-year-old widower's bank account was emptied of more than 60,000 euros.
Charges that are being considered include posing as a law enforcement official, fraud, aggravated fraud, payment fraud, money laundering and aggravated money laundering.
One main suspect still at large
One of the five chief suspects in the case is still at large. Of the remaining four standing trial, one suspect has confessed to participating in the scam. The other three had confessed during the preliminary investigation, but changed their statements and recanted their confessions.
Some of the defendants have been detained on previous occasions for earlier crimes. The crimes that are being considered in Kuopio allegedly took place in 2017 and 2018.
Two of the main suspects are originally from North Savo, but at the time of their remanding – a joint effort by police in eastern Finland, the National Bureau of Investigation and Swedish authorities – they were residing in the capital city region. The first was detained in Stockholm, and the second was taken into custody on a cruise boat on the way to Finland from Sweden.
The North Savo District Court has reserved 10 days for the trial.