Two couples accused of conning pensioners fight extradition to Hungary

Two married couples accused of conning pensioners out of £3m by claiming their relatives had been caught in accidents in UK fight extradition to Hungary

  • Marina and Erno Horvarth from Sheffield are wanted in Hungary over the scam
  • Maria Lakatos and partner Csaba Nemeth are also fighting extradition
  • Investigators say they targeted Hungarian pensioners with hoax calls
  • They allegedly pretended to be relatives needing money after a car crash 

Two married couples accused of conning pensioners out of £3million are fighting against extradition to Hungary in March.

Elderly victims were allegedly tricked over the phone into transferring cash after being told their relatives had been in car accidents and needed money to cover the damages.

Marina Horvath, 32, her husband Erno Horvarth, 41, along with Maria Lakatos, 41, and her partner Csaba Nemeth, 42, are all wanted in Hungary for their alleged involvement in the scam.


Erno Horvarth (left) and his wife Marina (right) are fighting against extradition to Hungary after being accused of conning pensioners of £3million

Lakatos also faces charges of sexual exploitation, kidnapping and hostage taking.

Cole Roberts, prosecuting, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the two couples are ‘part of an international organised criminal group.

‘It’s called a grandparents scam, whereby they defrauded elderly victims by calling them on the phone and asking for money.

‘This was in relation to a car accident involving a loved one of the victim and asking for money to cover damages.

‘The network is committing fraud on what can be termed an industrial level.


Maria Lakatos (right), 41, and her partner Csaba Nemeth (left), 42, are all wanted in Hungary for their alleged involvement in the scam.

‘It’s said the loss to the victims is approximately £3million for the whole network.’

Marina Horvath, from Sheffield, is charged with swindling while Erno faces 32 counts of fraud.

Maria Lakatos, from Manchester, faces 17 counts of swindling as well as charges of sexual exploitation, kidnapping, illegal restraint, hostage taking and offences under organised crime.

Nemeth, from Bolton, faces four counts of fraud, one of abuse of a minor and 17 counts of swindling.

District Judge Richard Clews said the extradition hearings will begin on March 23.

According to a Hungarian media report members of the gang cheated 33 elderly victims – mainly selected at random from a phone book.

Cole Roberts, prosecuting, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court (pictured) the two couples are ‘part of an international organised criminal group

The Hungarian news report says: ‘They were called from an English telephone number who pretended to be the grandchild, a relative of the elderly, during the conversation.

‘The caller claimed he had caused an accident and needed money immediately to make good the damage.’

The fraudsters allegedly told different stories, claiming they had crashed an expensive car and could avoid criminal proceedings if they offered immediate payment for the damages.

They would then send couriers directly to the elderly victims’ house and collect money or jewellery which was then sent back, investigators said.

Couriers were arrested on a number of occasions while committing the crime, according to Hungarian police.

Peter Bukovics, head of the Budapest police’s property protection unit, said it took time to detect the crimes ‘as elderly people who became victims were so ashamed that they were deceived that they often concealed what had happened to their loved ones and only reported it weeks later.’

The four defendants are remanded in custody.

The judge said there will be a further administrative hearing on February 15 and a case management hearing on March 15.

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