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Sought-after goods: solar modules

Photo: Sven Hoppe/ DPA

Because they are said to have captured large sums of money with fraudulent offers in online shops, two men from North Rhine-Westphalia have been charged in Bamberg. The now 21 and 23-year-old defendants from the district of Herford are said to have earned a total of around 400,000 euros with seven so-called fake shops on the Internet, as the Central Office Cybercrime Bavaria at the Bamberg General Prosecutor's Office announced on Wednesday.

For their scam, the two suspects apparently took advantage of the boom in demand for solar modules. According to the Bamberg Public Prosecutor's Office, they are said to have "misused data from real companies" in order to imitate their websites. On the seven websites created in this way, the two men are said to have offered high-quality photovoltaic and solar modules between June and November 2022. According to the indictment, however, if interested parties paid in advance, they did not receive any goods.

Up to ten years imprisonment

Due to a complaint by an injured party from Schwabach in Middle Franconia, investigations were then set in motion, according to a press release from the Central Office of Cybercrime Bavaria. After partly undercover investigations, the police have succeeded in identifying the two suspects. As part of a large-scale search operation, the two men were arrested in March of this year.

The investigators accuse the defendants of a total of 132 cases of commercial fraud. The younger man also has to answer for possession of child pornography that had been discovered on a smartphone found on him.

The 21-year-old has been in custody since then, and the arrest warrant against the 23-year-old was suspended in June against conditions. Since the younger of the two suspects was still an adolescent when the acts were committed, the juvenile chamber of the Bamberg Regional Court must now decide whether the statement of claim will be admitted and whether main proceedings will be opened. According to the Central Office for Cybercrime Bavaria, adults face prison sentences of up to ten years in cases like this.