On 8 July 2020, the cybercrime trial of the alleged scammer and principal of a European cybercrime organization, Israeli Gal BARAK, started in Vienna. The public prosecutor accuses Gal Barak of investment fraud with his broker sites like XTraderFX, SafeMarkets, Golden Markets, OptionStars, Golden Markets, or CryptoPoint. EFRI represents more than 225 European victims with stolen funds of more than Euros 6.7 million from this scammer.

Barak is also accused of money laundering because he would have laundered the stolen customer funds via complicated constructions. The presumption of innocence applies, of course. But we strongly believe there is also the right to justice for the thousands of victims of Barak’s scams.

Finding the truth

This Vienna Cybercrime Trial will undoubtedly be a milestone in the EU fight against cybercrime. It is the first trial in the EU that is dedicated to the thorough examination of binary options and broker scams based on years of investigations. Cybercrime is complex. Sure as hell it is! And hence a challenge for law enforcement and courts. In contrast, traditional crimes such as bank robbery, burglary, or theft are sorts of walks in the park for the prosecutors.

Cybercrime demands a high level of expertise from the prosecutor and the court. In the EU, judges presiding trials are obliged to deliberate and find the truth. The judge is not just an arbitrator who mediates between the court’s prosecution and defense attorneys like in the United States.

Stop victimizing the victims

In his opening plea, Gal Barak‘s defense attorney Peter Lewisch, partner of one of the most expensive lawyer in Vienna – characterized the victims with great passion and even greater cynicism as fools seeking the thrill from gambling. They would actually not have become victims at all, as they should have realized that the promises of the scams could not be true. They were therefore to be blamed themselves for the loss, yet now have the chutzpah to denounce the do-gooder, Gal Barak who loved to be seen associating himself with Rabbis and politicians. Oh yes, he spent a lot of money to protect himself from prosecution. A nice guy, ain’t he? Especially, as it was the stolen money he donated to his supporters (and also handed over to its lawyers), and ironically is probably even using to pay his defense attorney – chutzpah – what gall!.

Sadly we know this discriminating and humiliating “victims are to blame” defense line from trials of rapists and sex offenders. There too, the victims have been skillfully implicated as accomplices to their own victimization, who should have known better. Such victims have  regularly been made victims again, but this second time is in court. This is often why many victims of sex predators dare not report the crime. Only with the criminal law reforms of recent years, and the #MeToo movement, do victims have a chance for justice. Online investment fraud – cybercrime – similarly violates personal freedoms – it often literally snatches away a victim’s financial and psychological stability – which explains why this notion is termed ‘financial rape’.

Raising awareness

EFRI wants to prevent the victims of Barak’s machinations from being made victims again in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials.

We address the European Commission for support, as we are promised a “Safe Digital World”. The #VictimsVoice Campaign aims to raise awareness in the EU of the sensitive nature of cybercrime and the threat it poses to all citizens.

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