Hellenic Police have arrested 24 people over a scam involving wireless credit card terminals registered abroad, used to dodge capital controls and transfer money abroad.
A company based in Luxembourg supplied Greek businesses with special wireless point-of-sale (POS) terminals that were trafficked through Bulgaria and were linked with a bank in Malta where the transactions cleared. The use of these terminals is legal abroad, but not in Greece where capital controls are imposed.
In a joint press conference of General Secretary for Public Revenue Giorgos Pitsilis and chief of financial crimes police Emanouil Ploumis said that 24 people have been arrested so far and 164 terminals have been seized. The ring had sold 1,195 POS machines to 971 businesses in Greece and 73 businesses abroad. The vast majority of the businesses that bought the machines operate within the tourism sector.
The owners of the illegal POS terminals could withdraw 15,000 euros per month and transfer money abroad. A far cry from the 840 euros for every two weeks Greeks are allowed to withdraw under the existing capital controls. The next step for the authorities is to investigate if the owners of the POS machines evaded taxes. For that they will need the help of Bulgarian and Maltese authorities in order to determine whether the businesses using the terminals have smuggled funds abroad.
The first stage of the investigation took place in Kamatero, Acharnes and Corinth, where the companies selling the specific terminals operated and the terminals were confiscated.
The second stage was to investigate the businesses that had bought the POS machines. Authorities raided businesses in Attica, Chalkidiki, Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini, Heraklion, Crete and Samos. This is where the 24 POS terminal users were arrested.
Then, as Ploumis said in the press conference, authorities compiled a list of 971 businesses that had purchased a total of 2,011 such machines in order to file charges against them