A gang of Romanian Farmville-like enthusiasts insist they never realized that the government funds given for farming are actually for real animals and not fake ones like those on Facebook, deciding that their imaginary cows deserve the same treatment as the other milk-giving animals.
In other words, they ripped off authorities using one of the oldest scams in the book, made possible by bureaucracy. The gang claimed they held eight cow farms with a total of 1,860 animals and received subsidies of almost $163 (€120) per cow for three years.
Officials are now investigating the fraud after discovering the con in August this year due to a claim made by a local institution to stop the funds. The gang's exploits have been labeled the great "Farmville con" because their MO implied the "creation" of cows out of thin air - just like it happens in the popular online game.
For three years, the eight Romanians handling the con created cow farms just on paper worth $681,000 (€500,000), taken as funds from the European Union for the development of rural areas in the country. The funds are meant to help small and middle farmers develop their business while supporting and modernizing the Romanian agriculture.
The gang managed to keep everything working perfectly for three years. They had legal papers for the fake cattle but they also had a few real cows to show veterinarians. This way, their Farmville-like business account was gathering valuable funds.
After the payments were stopped, the eight culprits filed a claim and sued the Romanian government claiming their business was fair and legal. When Animal Protection officials were asked about the cows, they said that the owners presented viable documents for the animals and, according to the Romanian legislation, institutions are not obliged to issue evaluations or inspections, so they prefer not to, the Romanian publication Adevarul notes.
Farmville is one of the top five social media games at the moment, keeping people awake at night just to feed their cattle or grow their vegetables. Excessive Farmville gaming comes with downsides as well, with a 12-year-old boy becoming famous after spending $1,600 (€1,000) on virtual farm utensils.
Recently, Farmville lost the crown to another addictive game, Candy Crush Saga, which seems to be number one for the moment.