Invoices and murders - scams linked to Malmö killings

Sweden | 2012-04-04 | 1 comment
Sweden´s third largest city, Malmö, has for the past year attracted much attention in national media for the sharp increase in deadly violence. For example, the wave of people being gunned down in the streets, five of them during the timespan of one month. Many of these killings are suspected to be linked to the criminal business of highly lucrative scams plaguing small businesses.

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Tags: Crime

The names of those murdered or subjected to attempted murder in Malmö for the past six months is like a list of who-is-who among south Sweden’s organized crime. There are members of motorcycle gangs, loosely connected networks of ‘criminal entrepreneurs’, and gangs of multi-criminal adolescents.

The situation finally became unbearable for the local police. Earlier this year, reinforcements from elsewhere in the country was asked to give their assistance.

At the moment, around 300 police officers have been assigned to deal with the wave of deadly violence. Half of them investigates the eight murders that remain unresolved. The other half implements various measures against organised crime and attempts to disrupt the work of Malmö’s most criminal elements.

False invoices - the perfect crime?

Last month, the Swedish news agency TT revealed that many of the gang murders are linked to a special form of crime, namely fraud by false invoices.

According to "informed sources", at least four of the murder victims have links to scam companies that send false invoices, primarily to small businesses. Something that the local police authority has not wanted to comment.

Financial fraud through false invoices have long plagued Swedish companies, but the problem has intensified in recent years. Companies and business organizations have found it difficult to get the police to act against this type of crime. Largely because of that Swedish authorities have seen this as civil cases, a matter between companies.

Because this crime can bring big money, with little risk of getting caught, and gives short sentences, it has a shimmer of 'the perfect crime'.

Of Sweden’s 50-60 such scam companies, the worst resides in the Malmö area, according to TT. Competition between them is fierce and brutal.

The practices of the scam companies involves using intimidation and threats to lurk small businesses into buying different types of services they have not asked for. It could be about becoming listed on a directory site, that business owners are told that they have signed an agreement they in fact have not signed. Or getting a "free" website and then be required to pay a huge sum for mandatory advertisements.

Those who refuse to go along with the fabricated conditions, or to pay the hefty bills, are threatened with being subjected to debt collection, being reported to the Enforcement Authority, or taken to court.

The Swedish Federation of Trade, a Swedish business organization that spend a lot of work on the problem, has estimated this criminal trade to make a turnover of SEK 1.2 billion annually.

"But that is a low estimate. It may as well be about the double amount. This is an enormous problem for our member companies," says security chief Per Geijer.

The police have acknowledged that there are links between some of the murders in Malmö and the scam companies. The money from the invoice scams have gone to people who the police is supervising on the occasion of the recent wave of deadly violence. And for example, one of the persons shot is said to have ripped one of the kingpins of this scam business of a large sum of money.

And it is these links between the invoice scams and the street killings that seem to have get Swedish authorities to open their eyes to this type of crime.

A few weeks ago, a larger trial, with 17 plaintiffs, was initiated against three men behind one of this type of scam companies. It is the first of its kind.

The police in Malmö have started a special task force that is to focus on the economy behind the gangs. Ten authorities will help them in mapping the scam companies.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is reviewing whether it is possible to strengthen the right of withdrawal for companies that make orders over the phone.

Readers' comments

2012-04-27 14:02 Carl wrote:
Three Muslim men arrested in Danish ´terror plot: a 22-year-old Jordan national, a 23-year-old Turkish man living in Denmark and a 21-year-old Danish national who lives in Egypt.´

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