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Marseille victim of €700,000 Chinese scam

French Ligue 1 giants Marseille were the victims of a €700,000 ($793,000) international bank transfer scam to China last year, sources close to the case told AFP on Friday.

A preliminary enquiry has been opened by a court in the southern city of Marseille, with police fraud officers working in conjunction with the Central Office for Fighting Serious Financial Crime (OCRGDF).

"Like hundreds of other French companies, Olympique Marseille were the victims of a scam," the club said in a statement, adding they had "immediately filed a complaint" and "taken all the necessary steps".

"Part of the money has been recovered," the statement added.

It is estimated that 360 French businesses have been hit by fake transfer orders, representing €300 million ($340m), in the past two years.

A delegation from the French Justice Ministry visiting Beijing last November estimated that there was "an acceleration of such cases in late 2013, early 2014".

Other recent high-profile victims of the scam were French international tyre-maker Michelin, to the tune of €1.6m ($1.8m), and global audit firm KPMG, who lost €7.6 ($8.6m).

The scam is the latest misfortune to hit Marseille who were in the headlines recently as part of a probe into suspect player transfers.

Jose Anigo, the club's former sporting director, was released without charge last week after he was among 12 people arrested as part of an enquiry involving players agents as well as suspected crime figures.

The suspect transfers being investigated date back to 2010 and include that of French international striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.

The club management has since changed. But president Vincent Labrune as well as several former leaders were among people held for questioning in November.

CRIME

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.

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