Claims That the Funds Originate “from the Sale of a Tractor”

An agricultural worker accused of orchestrating a cyber attack on a German company to fraudulently receive a transfer of 56,000 euros into his accounts, of which he managed to withdraw 36,000 before the fraud was uncovered, has claimed that he received the money as a loan.

However, during the trial held this Monday at the Provincial Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he failed to specify the individual or financial institution that lent him the 56,000 euros, nor did he produce any contract.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the plaintiff, representing the affected cosmetics company, are seeking a two-year prison sentence and the restitution of the misappropriated funds, while the defence is requesting the complete acquittal of the defendant.

The accused mentioned that he is involved in banana cultivation and claimed that he does not recall the 56,000 euros appearing in his bank account as a transfer on May 12, 2020, but remembers receiving a loan at that time due to his dire financial situation.

Another explanation provided during the legal proceedings was that he had actually obtained 46,000 euros from the sale of a tractor.

Upon receiving the funds, the accused promptly transferred 6,000 euros to another one of his accounts, which the prosecution alleges was his fee for providing his bank details to participate in the fraudulent scheme, while the accused claimed it was at the request of the financial institution to unlock his account.

The lawyer of the German company believes that the defendant lacks the technical skills to conduct such a sophisticated operation, which involved penetrating an executive’s email and instructing the payment handler to make the transfer.

A subsequent attempt was made to initiate a similar transfer for 98,000 euros a few days later, but it was thwarted as the managers had by then become aware of the scam.

The alleged strategy was that the emails sent and received by the director were diverted to the trash or spam folders, ensuring that he remained oblivious to the transactions until later when he spoke with the payment processor.

The prosecution has detailed that within a span of just 48 hours, 38,000 euros in cash were withdrawn both over the counter and through ATMs, with withdrawals ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 euros.

Executives of the cosmetics companies testified as witnesses via video conference and corroborated the allegations.

On May 11, 2020, a transfer was initiated to an account under the defendant’s name supposedly at the request of the director, which he vehemently denied, stating that he never saw the message and did not benefit from it.

The management revealed that they subsequently received another transfer instruction for 98,000 euros to the same account, which was intercepted once the fraudulent activity was uncovered.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office deems the defendant’s explanations not credible, citing his occupation as an agricultural worker and questioning his potential links to the cosmetics industry, highlighting the inconsistencies in his statements throughout the proceedings.

The defence has criticized the investigation, pointing out the lack of clarity regarding the identity of the individual who may have orchestrated the alleged hacking, and justifying the bank’s request for documentation.

The defendant addressed the court at the trial’s conclusion, explaining that he was experiencing severe financial difficulties at the time, which led him to seek a loan of slightly over 50,000 euros, from which he withdrew 6,000 immediately.

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