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Payback unlikely for Swedes swindled by bogus brokers

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16:02 CET+01:00
More than one hundred Swedes who were defrauded of tens of millions of kronor by a group of phony stockbrokers will likely never see their money again.

“Not as it looks today,” police inspector Peter Sundman told the TT news agency.

A group of notorious fake stock brokers were recently sentenced to long prison sentences in Hungary for investment frauds carried out in a number of different countries.

In Sweden alone, there were more than 100 plaintiffs in the case.

Following the guilty verdict handed down by the Hungarian court, Swedish police and officials at the Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen – FI) thought Swedish victims caught up in the scam would be able to get their money back.

But upon examining the situation more carefully, Swedish officials are now much less certain about whether or not they will be able to help Swedes targeted by the fraud recoup their losses.

According to Sundman, one of five officers in the Stockholm County police department focusing on investment fraud cases, there is “extremely little” money to share. Exactly how much money there may be remains unknown.

“But the money isn't enough for everyone, it seems. And there will likely be some sort of queuing system, depending on how they rank this. But that's being done in Hungary,” he said.

Most of the Swedish plaintiffs lost between 20,000 and 50,000 kronor ($3,000-$7,300), but some victims were tricked out of several million.

In Sweden, the fake brokers primarily tried to sell shares in a bogus company called Slender Life International, which was described as having excellent prospects. But the superior returns promised to unwitting Swedish investors never materialized.

In order to bolster the illusion of legitimacy, the fraudsters claimed to be working for brokerage houses with serious sounding names like Livingstone Asset Management, Cambridge Global and Amherst International.

A total of ten people of various nationalities have been convicted in the case, which was the brainchild of three Americans.

Sundman wasn't sure whether Hungarian authorities are trying to secure additional assets from those convicted in the case.

“Only the police authorities down there can answer that. But for the time being things look pretty bad,” he said.

Victims interested in assistance contacting Hungarian authorities involved in the case are encouraged to get in touch with the Stockholm County police department.

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