Victim of a “scam at the president”, a real estate developer loses 33 million euros in one month

Trying to the accountant of the Parisian company Sefri-Cime to believe a future IPO, crooks managed to steal 33 million euros, via money transfers to European accounts

The start of the year was gloomy for property developer Sefri-Cime. In December 2021, the Parisian company was “relieved” of 33 million euros through a “scam of the president”, reveals “Le Parisien” this Monday, January 3. This practice, which appeared about ten years ago, consists of pretending to be the manager of a company in order to redirect payments to new bank details.

National record

On December 2, the accountant of the company Sefri-Cime received an email from a person pretending to be the managing director, telling him that he was preparing the company’s listing on the stock market. Requiring the utmost confidentiality, he asks him to make about forty bank transfers to accounts located in European countries. “Hungary, Croatia and Greece”, specifies a source close to the file quoted by “Le Parisien”. The sums paid will then be redirected to tax havens.

In barely a month, it is therefore 33 million euros that will be stolen as well. A national record, recalls the Paris daily. On December 30, an investigation was opened to the means of payment fraud brigade of the Paris judicial police, after a complaint lodged the day before by the management of Sefri-Cime, when the scam was discovered.

A well-established scam

The so-called “president” scam was invented by Gilbert Chikli. In 2015, the latter was sentenced in absentia by the Paris Criminal Court to seven years in prison and a fine of one million euros, for having defrauded, between 2005 and 2006, 33 banks and companies, including La Banque Postale, HSBC and Crédit lyonnais, with a total loss estimated at 7.9 million euros. Passed by the Cours Florent, he was also condemned, in 2020, for a scam known as “the false Le Drian”, posing as the Minister of Defense of the time, asking rich personalities for financial assistance for secret operations of the French State.

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