Bernhard Möls' fight against Wirecard begins with sex. His nephew, 13 years old, types the three letters in his computer in August 2003, selects the Google hit with the message "free". An expensive click, as his mother notes when the next phone bill comes: she should pay over 200 euros.
This article comes from the "WirtschaftsWoche".
This is how Möls, the curious boy's uncle, comes into contact with Wirecard. At that time, the company was called differently and was far from being a global payment service provider and Dax group. Möls wants to help his nephew, tracks down a sex rip-off with 0190 numbers and encounters more and more inconsistencies. First it is a feeling: something is wrong with this company. Then it becomes more certain. And an addiction.
Bernhard Möls means different in real life, he chose the name for this story. He writes on the Internet under the pseudonym "jigajig" as one of the best-known Wirecard critics. He became the chronicler of a billion scandal that has not yet come to an end: ex-CEO Markus Braun has to report to the police regularly; Ex-board member Jan Marsalek is on the run; BaFin's supervisors and Ernst & Young's examiners are disgraced.
In internet forums like Wallstreet-Online, "jigajig" expressed doubts very early on about Wirecard's growth story - and was not alone in this. Holes in the balance sheets, suspicious side transactions by employees, dubious deals in Dubai, India, Singapore: If you read the entries today, it seems even more incredible that Wirecard has been able to ward off criticism for so long.
45,000 posts in Internet forums
This was achieved because Wirecard could rely on an aggressive online fan base. This attacked critics like "jigajig", watered down their arguments, insulted and ridiculed them. Möls kept going. He has saved almost half a million documents on Wirecard, published around 45,000 articles in Internet forums, most of them on Wirecard. He estimates that the workload for writing was more than 3700 hours.
But he paid a high price, neglected family and friends, and ruined his health. Sure, the crash of the alleged stock market star is a triumph for him. But a bitter one.
Why did he do this to himself? What did the fight do to him?
Munich, on Thursday of last week. Bernhard Möls is waiting in front of the meeting point, the exit of the Olympiazentrum subway station. A medium-sized man in his late 40s, slim, denim jacket, three-day beard, backpack, his brown hair has gray streaks, his face has serious wrinkles. We have been in contact for years, we have never seen each other. He only agreed to the meeting after some hesitation and made the condition that his real name not be published. He starts walking and wants to tell his story on a walk in the Olympic Park.
Who he is? His job is "very far from Wirecard". He is a social worker, works with high-risk children. He lives somewhere in the Munich area with his wife and children. The fact that he became a Wirecard hunter is related to his sense of justice, he says: "I always opened my mouth when things went wrong." Already at school and also when his nephew fell into the sex trap.
The boy had become the victim of a dialer, a computer software that secretly dials a 0190 number when certain pages are called up, thus driving up the phone bill. Möls comes across a dialer called Crosskirk, which came from a company of the same name based in Mallorca. The company is part of the network of Munich businessman Paul Bauer-Schlichtegroll. Möls is studying commercial register for Bauers EBS Holding, to which Wire Card AG has also belonged since 2002. Back then, it was already active in the future topic of internet payments. With the takeover of Wire Card AG, Bauer also gained two new employees: Markus Braun and Jan Marsalek. Customers who want to process payments via the Internet originally came from the porn and gaming industry.