Husband and wife who ‘scammed 220 pensioners out of £3million’ will be extradited back to Hungary 

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A married couple accused of involvement in a scam that tricked pensioners out of £3million by claiming their loved ones had been in car crashes face will be extradited back to Hungary. 

Csaba Nemeth, 42, and wife Maria Lakatos, 41, allegedly conned victims into transferring cash over the phone by telling them their relatives needed money to cover damages from motoring accidents.

It is said that 220 people aged between 70 and 96 were convinced their loved ones needed help or had been injured.

The couple are thought to have called pensioners and hired recruits to wait outside their homes and demand money once the conversation ended.

Lakatos, of Manchester, faces 19 counts of swindling, three counts of sexual exploitation, one count of kidnapping, illegal restraint and hostage taking, and one count of participating in organised crime.

Nemeth, of Bolton, faces 19 counts of swindling, five counts of fraud, and one count of participating in organised crime.

Csaba Nemeth, 42

Maria Lakatos, 41

Csaba Nemeth, 42, and wife Maria Lakatos, 41, allegedly conned victims into transferring cash over the phone by telling them their relatives needed money to cover damages from motoring accidents 

District Judge Angus Hamilton told the couple in separate virtual hearings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court: ‘You should be extradited back to Hungary.’

If convicted of the alleged con, which took place between January and July 2019, they face up to a decade behind bars.

Lakatos, wearing a grey cardigan over a white shirt and Nemeth, wearing a grey T-shirt, told the judge they planned to appeal the decision.

Prosecutor Amanda Bostock earlier told the extradition hearing: ‘There’s a large-scale conspiracy in Hungary that has been taking place to defraud elderly victims. The Hungarian authorities term them “grandchild frauds”.

‘An elderly person is contacted by these alleged persons and others in the UK. 

‘They are told their relative, usually a grandchild, has been involved in a car accident and that they need money urgently to resolve an incident.

‘In some cases it’s that they will be injured if the money isn’t paid.’

‘There’s currently 220 victims aged between 70 and 96.

District Judge Angus Hamilton told the couple in separate virtual hearings at Westminster Magistrates' Court (pictured): 'You should be extradited back to Hungary'

District Judge Angus Hamilton told the couple in separate virtual hearings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (pictured): ‘You should be extradited back to Hungary’ 

‘There’s a hierarchy in which these alleged persons are said to be at the top in that they make the phone calls, recruited lower individuals who wait outside the property of the person being contacted so that as soon as they make the phone call the money is collected – usually jewellery – before they have time to check with their grandchild the real situation.

‘Half a million pounds has been taken from these victims but several attempts have been made so the total loss is much higher and the damages are significant.’

According to a Hungarian media report, victims were called from an English telephone number by someone pretending to be the grandchild, or a relative of the elderly, during the conversation.

The Hungarian news report stated: ‘They were called from an English telephone number who pretended to be the grandchild, a relative of the elderly, during the conversation.

‘The caller claimed he had caused an accident and needed money immediately to make good the damage. 

‘Several versions of the urgency of the money were invented by the fraudsters: they were claiming that an expensive car had crashed and no police proceedings would be instituted against him with immediate payment of the damage, but there was also a case where the caller said he would be beaten and shall not be released from the scene until the amount of the damage caused has been paid.

‘The mock relatives avoided direct encounters by convincing the victims that they themselves could not go for the money, possibly for jewellery, but would send an acquaintance for it. 

‘A courier was then directed to the home of the elderly, who took the money and jewellery, and then forwarded the package to those who distributed the money or handed it over to the managers of the organisation. 

‘Investigators arrested the couriers on several occasions while committing the crime when they went for the money, he told a news conference.’

Peter Bukovics, head of the Budapest police’s property protection unit, said it took time to detect the crimes ‘as elderly people who became victims were so ashamed that they were deceived that they often concealed what had happened to their loved ones and only reported it weeks later’.

Lakatos, of Manchester, faces 19 counts of swindling, three counts of sexual exploitation, one count of kidnapping, illegal restraint and hostage taking, and one count of participating in organised crime.

Nemeth, of Bolton, faces 19 counts of swindling, five counts of fraud, and one count of participating in organised crime.



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