ATHENS - Artemis Sorras, who had been on the run since being convicted of bilking gullible Greeks in a scam in which he said had $600 billion and would pay their debt as well as for Greece, was captured and arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Sorras was leader of the ultra-nationalist cult-like movement Convention of Greeks. His wife ran away with him but there was no word on whether she was also apprehended when he was taken into custody in a neighborhood along Athens’ coast on June 16.
He had been sentenced in absentia eight years in prison for embezzlement when he didn’t show up for his trial but the newspaper Kathimerini said it wasn’t clear if he was arrested for that or another crime.
Police sources said they had been tipped off to the fugitive's whereabouts and had him under surveillance, the paper said, even though he had grown a beard to try to hide his identity and had built a kind of panic room in his house to evade capture.
In July, 2017, Greece’s Supreme Court overturned a 2013 ruling by an Athens misdemeanor court stating that he had the right to manage what turned out to be a fraudulent fund and acquitted him.
Judges said the 2013 decision was not based on any substantiated evidence. The ruling bears no legal consequence on Sorras, though couldn’t invoke that earlier ruling anymore in his defense in which the lower essentially said he had the right to defraud people. He had been sentenced in March, 2017 in a court in Patra in western Greece.
he will no longer be able to invoke the 2013 decision if he’s ever caught.
Officials said his claims of having trillions of dollars was imaginary and designed to get money from people but he was allowed to keep scamming them until he vanished.
Sorras required followers to take an oath of allegiance to the ancient gods. Seven of his alleged associates were also charged with related offenses.
Sorras said he could personally pay off Greece’s more than 347 billion euros ($371 billion) debt and that of all Greeks but didn’t nor was there any indication of where the money was as no Greek bank had it.
Some followers reportedly told tax officials to have him pay their debts but there’s no reports he’s done that while pocketing their fees.
The government had finally looked into his his claims that he made $115 trillion from from inventing a fuel that would take spaceships to Mars and selling it to the U.S. government which has a Gross Domestic Product of $16.7 trillion.
Later he said Greeks should pay their debts because he wouldn’t but hundreds of his idolaters showed up at earlier court hearing to root for him even though he took their money and disappeared.
Critics chastised the courts and justice system for taking so long to go after a man they said was obviously a scam artist and had gotten away away with it.