Working grant - Property Corruption in Bulgaria
Ireland is connected to the property scams through wealthy Irish frauds looking for easy money by buying property in Black Sea resorts and engaging in corrupt practices with Bulgarian mafia gangs. It is clear from the number of people who have lost money trying to buy properties in Bulgaria that there are fundamental deficiencies with the entire Bulgarian property economy.
Irish journalist Michael O'Farrell and Bulgarian colleagues Daniela Teofanova and Svetlana Batalova investigated the scam and mapped out the different methods the criminals used for their corrupt business as well as the key players of the story. Innocent people were lured into buying non-existent holiday houses in resorts at the Black Sea, after which their money was simply taken without them hearing from the agencies ever again. In another case, the documents and possessions of an elderly British holiday-maker who had settled in Bulgaria were claimed by his 38-year younger girlfriend after he had died. His children in the UK, who he had mentioned in his will, didn't receive any of their father's assets.
Their main investigation led O'Farrell, Teofanova and Batalova to Michael Lynn, an Irish solicitor who landed in Bulgaria in 2007 after an 80 million Euro mortgage scam he had set up in Ireland had been discovered. Before fleeing the country, he had led on over 300 Irish and English people making them believe he would build apartments for them in Bulgarian resorts. He collected the money 'off-plan' from his compatriots.
A grant of €3,990 was awarded on July 5th, 2010.