Another Bulgarian accused of financial fraud and threatened by …
Another young Bulgarian who worked in a call center is awaiting a court decision on whether to extradite him to Germany. He was wanted with a European arrest warrant almost a year and a half after four of his colleagues were detained and extradited, BNT reports.
Each of the youths is accused of committing a crime over a hundred frauds worth over 1.5 million euros. The point is to find out if they or someone above them committed these frauds. The five youths worked in a call center that contacted potential customers and offered to sell cryptocurrency trading software. According to the data available to BNT, the call center in question is was leased by two commercial companies. One – registered in Germany, and the other – in Switzerland.
The Bulgarians who worked in the call center here claim that when one of the potential customers agrees to learn in detail about the capabilities of the offered software, they relegated communication at a higher level to account managers. According to our information, these account managers are part of the two companies in Germany and Switzerland and were not on the territory of Bulgaria. They are the ones who ultimately did the deal with the sale of the software in question, through which the money was then embezzled from the customers.
However, the German prosecutor’s office is seeking criminal responsibility from the lowest level. And these young people worked on an employment contract and fulfilled their work obligations, as is evident from the story of one of them who stood in front of our camera.
We will conventionally call it Asen. Having completed his education abroad, he returned to his homeland. He finds a job ad on the biggest site and decides to go for an interview. The position is for a call center. They approve of it.
BNT: What were your reasons for starting to work in this company?
Assen: The main reasons were on the one hand the attractive salary and on the other hand the fact that working with clients on a daily basis helped my communication skills.
Assen turns out to be the perfect candidate for the call center. He is young, well educated, speaks perfect English and also speaks German. After a short training, he started offering cryptocurrency trading software initially to English-speaking and later to German-speaking potential customers.
“My direct duties were to connect with clients and provide the service that the firm provided. As the clients themselves were provided by some type of system that recruited clients in some way. I’m not entirely sure exactly how.”
BNT: I.e. automated system?
Assen: Yes, it was an automated system. From somewhere, numbers and names of customers were being dialed. To potential customers. We explained to them what was explained to us by the line managers. And as long as the person agrees, we’ve already referred them to what we call an “account manager” to discuss with them the possibilities of making money with the software in question.
BNT: Did you have direct contact with these “account managers” or did you transmit the information electronically?
Asen: Everything was transmitted electronically.
BNT: I.e. you don’t know who the “account managers” are?
BNT: Were they on the territory of Bulgaria or on the territory of another country?
Asen: I have no way of knowing. It is possible that they were on the territory of Bulgaria, it is possible that they were somewhere else, I don’t know. All communication was done electronically or the line manager would contact them in some way.
BNT: Do you know who was the owner, have you ever seen the owners of this company, of this call center where you work?
Asen: No. I later found out that the owner is a Serbian person. I have no idea who she is, I’ve never seen her.
In the summer of 2021, Asen was on sick leave for several days. Then there was a joint action of investigators from Germany and Bulgaria in the call center. Four of Assen’s colleagues, who, like him, had the task of initial contact with clients, were detained.
However, the direct managers were not arrested, nor those who made the final deal on the sale of the software, with which the fraud was then carried out and the money of the customers was embezzled. The owner of the call center has returned to Serbia and has not been detained either. Thus, for the time being, only the young Bulgarians who worked on labor contracts in the call center and received their salaries only via bank transfer are in custody.
Asen was detained a month and a half ago in a city in Central Bulgaria. He was there for team building with the company he started working for after the call center closed. Actually he even through the Bureau of Labor he was able to leave his previous job, as the bosses and the owner of the call center ran away after the action last summer. He was detained after checking into the hotel and a European arrest warrant was issued for him in mid-July this year. The extradition case is now being heard in a district court.
Until now, Bulgaria has not issued a refusal to execute a European arrest warrant, but courts in Germany, France and Great Britain have refused to execute warrants issued by Bulgaria. According to lawyer Mihail Ekimdzhiev, if the court thoroughly checks whether there is sufficient evidence, not just allegations of a committed crime, and if it finds that there is not enough such evidence, it can refuse extradition with reasons. However, the court has the final say.