Cyprus Mail

Police probe ‘guaranteed employment’ company

File photo of people at unemployment office

People who claim they had been duped into paying money with the promise of employment abroad demanded answers and their money on Monday, as police launched an investigation into the affair.

For around €620, the men were guaranteed work in the construction industry in France but it appears that was just an empty promise.

The state had to repatriate some 70 people who were flown to France and got stuck there.

Police said some 200 individuals had paid the money.

“They fooled us into thinking we’ll go abroad to work and people were convinced because some individuals already went abroad,” said Larnaca resident Charalambos Prodromou.

Prodromou and others like him went to the company’s offices on Makarios Avenue to ask for a refund.

“We found no one, the office is closed,” he said.

The company was registered in June this year.

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said statements were being taken from those who returned from France.

“There are details we need to examine to clarify what offenses have been committed and whether there was deceit – whether the individuals who took the money intended to deceive people,” the spokesman said.

Around 31 people returned on Sunday and 42 more were expected on Monday, Angelides said.

Police were looking for a man suspected of using the identity card of a Greek national who had reported his document lost.

An employee of the company, whose office has been shut since Thursday, helped police search the premises on Monday and provided information on the suspect who does not appear to be in Cyprus.

Based on the documents they signed, the men were promised one-way plane tickets to France, hotel stay until Monday, and a salary of €1,000 per month.

However, according to reports, the contract also contained a clause precluding them from receiving a refund.

The company used newspaper ads and leaflets to find people who could not find a job in the worst recession sweeping the island in decades.

The foreign ministry said the hotel the men were staying in had been paid until Saturday and the state had to foot the bill for an extra night and repatriation expenses.

Panayiotis Theoharous from Levadhia was lucky to get his money back.

“I was scheduled to leave on Sunday but I received a call on Saturday telling me the flats we were going to be staying at in France were not ready,” he told reporters.

Theoharous immediately went to the company office and told them he wanted his money back.

He had paid €1,240 – for himself and his son – and eventually managed to get €1,200 back.

It was not immediately clear who gave Theoharous his money back.

Painter Christos Solomou had been told he would be departing for Lille on September 22.

He said he had heard from a friend that the company was under investigation by the police.

Solomou contacted the police and was told that based on their investigation, the company looked legal.

“So I trusted the company to find work since I have been unemployed for two years,” he said.

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