In a press conference, António Madureira from the PJ said that the suspects were calling the victims, mainly restaurant owners, reporting an alleged complaint of irregularities in the establishment, promising to close their files in exchange for money.
According to that official, the men asked for “amounts to be between 400 and 600 Euros” to close alleged inspection processes, which the victims paid by bank transfer, but always by phone.
The men, residing in the Lisbon area, are said to have extorted “tens of thousands of Euros” from businessmen from various parts of the country, “form the Algarve to the Minho”, with around 50 affected, so far, although the authorities believe that there may be more.
“I wanted to appeal to all possible victims, because we believe that we are still only uncovering a very small part of this group’s criminal activity. We have situations from the Algarve to Minho, those who were contacted by the fake inspectors, should contact the authorities”, he stressed.
The PJ Director of Faro took the opportunity to reinforce that no supervisory entity “closes processes in exchange for money”.
The investigation into the case was launched by the PJ’s southern directorate “about six months ago”, added António Madureira, estimating that the two men, aged 55 and 32, had been working for “about a year.”
The investigation is under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Serpa, in the district of Beja, as it was the location where the initial complaint was triggered by an affected party.