Congratulations! You won! BGH Curbs Con Men with Fabricated Sweepstakes

This article will show you how BGH is cleaning up on con men and crooks in (online) businesses with its judgment of May 30, 2008 (re 1 StR 166/07).


Many dubious companies lure customers with false promises of a win. The Federal Court of Justice raps their knuckles with a double whammie: retaining the turnover and probation.

We're not only giving them a warning, we're throwing them off the court." as the presiding judge has been quoted and has surely expressed what so many persons that are frustrated about this ever increasing rip-off think.

The BGH upheld the conviction of LG Mannheim against three business persons owning a company in Baden-Wurttemberg and a network of foreign off-shore companies. They had systematically sent false notifications of sweepstake wins to elderly, economically not so experienced persons and so boosted their turnover. Their promises were evidently false. Instead of a promised "suitcase full of money" they only receive a small box with one cent coins. So far the punishability was heavily discussed in court because the products ordered were not overpriced. The Federal Court of Justice considered this behavior as punishable because it was used as the company's trick, not as a valid offer: In the years 2003 and 2004, the company had a turnover of € 170 million.

The Federal Court of Justice ordered that in such case not only the profit but the whole turnover is to be taken and secured for the victims. In the case reported here, this was 32 million Euros. This judgment is a precedent because it clarifies that the state, following the "gross doctrine" has to collect the total turnover from criminal games and not only the profit as LG Mannheim had assumed.

Practical Hint:

If you fallen victim to such a scheme are to apply for reimbursement from the con men to the criminal court, §403 StPO. In order to successfully apply, you need to be a participant in the criminal case, which will be as a joint plaintiff in the criminal proceedings.


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