Cyprus Mail

Sunbed scammers mitigation hearing delayed

Larnaca court has given lawyers representing seven Paralimni municipality workers found guilty last month of pocketing tens of thousands of euros in takings for sunbeds and umbrellas till July 21 to prepare mitigation for their sentencing.

Lawyers requested time for their clients to make amends to the municipality for the financial damage suffered from the scam.

The case came to light from checks made to the software accounting system used to keep track of sunbed and umbrella rentals of the municipality after huge holes appeared in the expected takings.

The case was reported to police at the beginning of July 2012 and investigations kicked-off immediately. It was found that in the period from May 21 to August 14 of that year the municipality was ripped-off for a total of €96,000.

The employees were able to fiddle with the electronic ticketing machines and pocket the takings. When a massive gap in revenue from the municipal-controlled beaches broke all records, the local council decided to take their suspicions to the police who examined electronic data stored in the machines, comparing them with the municipality’s computers. The examinations came up with a number of irregularities.

The most popular method used was the re-issuing of receipts. Tourists would pay for their sunbed and umbrella and the workers would reprint the previous customer’s receipt. Other methods used included handing out handwritten or blank receipts.

The suspects were caught after the municipality decided to alter its checking system, making the workers report on a monthly instead of a daily basis. This made it harder for workers to keep check of what they were doing and they started handing over different amounts to those registered on the machines’ software system.

Police, who also worked undercover and posed as beachgoers to investigate, told the court the suspects often didn’t even issue a receipt.

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