We recently wrote about a 21-year-old man from Bad Segeberg who had been running a small-scale fraud operation that involved stolen PayPal account information from the darknet, matching DHL packing stations, eBay, and high-end electronics. After a recent sentencing hearing, German media outlets reported that the man “cheated a sentence” or that he “got off lightly.”
The prosecution and defense asked the judge of the juvenile court to consider a sentence that would be “reasonable and meaningful.” In the end, the judge did exactly that. Instead jail time and court fines, the judge handed down a sentence of only 100 hours of community work and full restitution to the victims he defrauded between November 2015 and his February 2016 arrest. To the astonishment of the prosecution and others in the courtroom, the defendant revealed that he had not spent any of the money he had stolen using the PayPal accounts of his victims.
He explained his crimes to the courtroom and to the judge. The man said that he used the darknet to purchase stolen PayPal accounts of other German citizens, often German citizens living in close proximity to the man’s residence. The accounts, in addition to the location requirement, also needed to have a matching DHL account and packing station where they—or he in this case—could pick up items purchased with the stolen PayPal accounts. This allowed the man to have his packages shipped to an address other than his own home and to an address that belonged to the recipient.
According to the prosecution, the man used the stolen PayPal accounts to fund eBay purchases. He presumably created an eBay account to match the identity associated with the stolen PayPal account. He purchased high-end electronics—mostly iPhones—from various eBay sellers. He had the packages shipped to the DHL pack station that belonged to the owner of the PayPal account. And when the packages arrived, he picked them up as the pack station owner.
After picking up the electronics, he turned around and sold them online and in person. German authorities caught up to the man after he had run his game on dozens of unsuspecting victims. The PayPal customers reported the loss to PayPal after spotting an unauthorized charge on their PayPal account history. PayPal then refunded the PayPal account holders. On February 12, 2016, the police caught him at a DHL pack station where he had planned to pick up three packages of iPhones.
The information used by the prosecution came both from the police’s investigation and from statements the defendant gave after his arrest. He put all of the money earned through his fraud scheme into one bank account he had set aside for such payments. The account held exactly 8157.69 euros, according to the defendant. He said that he had not touched a single dime of it and he did not need to use it either. He worked a job and paid his bills with legitimately earned money. He had no debts. He could not give an answer as to why he had done what he did, however.
For the series of scams, the 21-year-old will only need to complete 100 hours of community service and repay the victims in entirety; something likely to cost barely more than the balance on bank account.