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Judge sentences PCC group that created virtual “Maria Clara” to 18 years for “Tinder scam”

Judge Paulo Fernando Deroma De Mello, from the 1st Court of Tax Crimes, Criminal Organization and Laundering of Goods and Valuables in the Capital, sentenced members of a gang that carried out the “Tinder scam” to sentences of up to 18 years in prison. The group, made up of nine suspects, all convicted, had links to the PCC. They created “Maria Clara”, a virtual fantasy that attracted unsuspecting men into romantic encounters.

The defendants were sentenced for criminal organization and qualified extortion – through serious threat, use of a firearm and restriction of freedom – of a 48-year-old man.

The main convict, Alisson Raphael Lino Porfirio, is named as the leader of the gang. He got 18 years and is already in prison. According to the Public Ministry, Alisson negotiated percentages of the amounts extorted, to share the profits from the crime with a man known as “Goiânia”, identified as a member of the PCC.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, AlIisson worked on approaching victims and “managing captivity”.

Two other defendants, also sentenced to 18 years – Diego Lopes Simões and Wallace Vitorino de Oliveira – were “beneficiaries of bank transfers of significant amounts”.

The investigation indicates that the two were mentioned in dialogues between Alisson and “Goiânia”.

Another six defendants – Jaqueline Gomes Alves, João Alexandre Silva Warnava, Stephany Rayane Gomes Nunes, Paulo Alexandre Macencio da Silva, Jairan Gomes dos Santos and Jéssica Norberto de Jesus – received 15 years in prison. They made their accounts available for the transfer of amounts extorted from the victim.

The action shows that some defendants were responsible for tasks such as sharing the proceeds of crime, approaching victims and managing captivity, in addition to looting cash for later distribution among colleagues.

Judge Paulo Fernando Deroma de Mello pointed out the “enormous sophistication” of the group. The sentence was signed on Tuesday (4).

According to the magistrate, the gang maintained several sectors: one provided weapons for criminal practices; another was tasked with creating fake profiles on dating apps; one sector was made up of “victim snatchers”; another took care of the captives.

The structure of the “Tinder gang” also included a nucleus that recruited people to open and transfer current accounts to capture amounts extorted from victims. Also, a computer center.

According to the São Paulo Public Ministry’s complaint, the gang used dating apps such as Tinder to attract victims and arrange meetings.

When the victim arrived at the scheduled location, he was “approached by members of the faction”. Blindfolded, she was placed in a vehicle in which she was transported to captivity. There, the victim was stripped of his bank cards and cell phone. Threatened, she released the password for purchases and transfers of amounts that fell into the criminal group’s accounts. The accounts were managed by “those responsible for receiving these spurious amounts”.

Investigators say that the criminals even questioned the victims about their financial behavior so that they could adapt to the profiles and not raise suspicions in the banks’ anti-fraud systems.

In the case that led to the conviction of nine defendants, the gang used the profile of a woman named Maria Clara on Tinder to arrange a meeting with a man. When he arrived at the designated location around 8pm, he was approached by three men, who announced the robbery, covered his eyes with a blindfold and took him into captivity in Cidade Patriarca, east of São Paulo.

There, the group took the victim’s cell phone and cards, tied his feet and hands with a cable tie (“cat hanger”) and made death threats. Subdued, the man gave bank passwords and home address. The man was imprisoned from the 1st to the 5th of October 2022. The group stole R$220,000 from the victim.

The criminals went to the victim’s residence and stole a car, TV sets, a printer, a notebook, a drill, seven sanders, a welding machine and suitcases filled with clothing.

The man escaped from prison by chance. One day, during a police operation close to their captivity, the criminals got scared and ran away. The victim took the opportunity to escape his tormentors.

The investigation began when two members of the group were arrested in the act using the card of another extortion victim. Based on messages found on the cell phones of those being investigated, the Police identified that the prisoners were part of the same “criminal faction” responsible for the kidnapping.

The dialogues showed a constant conversation between one of the prisoners, Alisson, and “Goiânia”. They dealt with the purchase of weapons and the division of the gang’s profits. The messages also showed that the group maintained a weapons supply nucleus, including rifles.

During the investigation, the Police discovered that “Goiânia” served as the US “final tuner” in the PCC hierarchy. He identified himself that way in a dialogue. According to investigators, the mention of the USA is linked to the faction’s territorial divisions. The “final tune” corresponds to the leadership of the criminal organization.

Regarding the “Tinder scam”, the Police identified that Alisson created the profile “Maria Clara” to attract his victims. In this case, Alisson contacted “Goiânia” and offered 30% of the profits from the crime in exchange for providing company bank accounts to receive funds.

The “conteiros” – people who rent accounts to receive money – also issued bills to “launder” the extortion money, the investigation points out.

“Conteiros”

The judge dedicated part of the sentence to talking about the participation of the “conteiros” in the gang. According to Paulo Fernando Deroma De Mello, they have “close ties” with other criminals. The magistrate called the defendants’ version of “fantasy” that they lent their bank accounts to strangers without knowing that the amounts came from the crime.

According to the judge, believing in such a narrative is “challenging the intelligence of any applicator of the law”.

“It is not credible that a criminal organization with such sophistication would kidnap victims, place them in captivity, and only then go aimlessly around the communities where they live looking for “good natured” people so that they, naively, “lend” their bank accounts to strangers, without knowing their qualifications or the origin of the amounts transferred”, he noted.

According to the magistrate, it is “absolutely impossible””that there is no prior adjustment between the criminals who carry out the kidnapping, those who distributed the bank accounts and the “containers”.

“In other words, there was direct intent, the intention of which was to join the criminal organization intended to carry out extortion through kidnapping and receive financial benefits in exchange for renting bank accounts”, indicated the judge.

Source: CNN Brasil

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