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German police bust porn invoice scammers

Bogus bills with menaces

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German police have seized computers and documents from a dozen companies which allegedly attempted to extract cash from people using bogus invoices for porn services. They also arrested the main suspect - a 50-year-old Danish man.

The companies, located in Hamburg, Mannheim and Friedberg, punted their services through newspapers and TV. When would-be customers phoned, the scammers would look up the corresponding postal address in the phone directory and send victims an invoice of €65.95 for a monthly subscription. When the recipients refused to pay, the companies would then send round bogus debt collectors. Police received more than 900 complaints, some of them dating back to October 2002.

Last year in Hamburg, police arrested two suspects over an internet dialler scam, which may have swindled 170,000 internet users into paying a total of €2.5m or more. These scammers also looked up the postal address of their victims, but took the swindle one step further. They delivered a package to the victim's door, telling him that the address was incorrect, and would he please sign for delivery. The signature was then used to fabricate a bogus invoice, which stated that the victim had been using an online porn service for which he needed to pay. ®

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