More than a hundred Romanian parliamentarians responded to an SMS invitation from a fake businessman from the United Arab Emirates who proposed them “a deal”. Only later did they realise they had been fooled by a journalist.
Daily newspaper ‘Romania Libera’, which set up the spoof, has published a full list of the greedy parliamentarians.
Daniel Befu, a journalist at the newspaper, sent SMS messages to 460 Romanian MPs and senators, posing as a businessman representing an investment fund in the United Arab Emirates that wanted to do business with them.
An “explosion” of telephone calls followed – 113 calls and 68 SMS messages – requesting a meeting. Only nine parliamentarians responded by saying that the law prohibited them from entering into such business relations.
The daily has published a list of SMS messages from MPs interested in the deal and another series from those who declined the proposal.
Quickest to respond was Socialist MP Robert Negoiţă, who called the minute the SMS was sent. But the ‘champion’ in terms of number of calls was Valerian Vreme, an MP from the governing centre-right PD-L (National Liberal) party and current minister of communications and information technologies. He called back seven times in just two-and-a-half hours in an attempt to reach the imaginary businessman.
Miron Mitrea, one of the MPs who fell into the trap and a former minister in the Socialist government, was seemingly in such a haste to respond to the invitation for a meeting that he forgot to sign his text message.
Nini Săpunaru, an MP from the opposition PNL party, which is affiliated to the European liberals’ group in the European Parliament (ALDE), proposed to continue contacts on a “private number”, sending an SMS reading: ‘CALL 0748630376 SĂPUNARU’.
Doru Fruzulica, a Socialist MP and former secretary of state in the foreign ministry, sent the following SMS in English: “Misses Fischer, you sent me a message. This is Doru Frunzulică. I proposing you to meet, if possible for a coffee, around 9:30 at Hotel Pullman, ex Sofitel at World Trade Center. If you agree send me a message. Thank you. Bye.”
The Romanian spoof appears to emulate a recent similar media experience in Bulgaria.
Last December, journalists from two Bulgarian media firms, the weekly ‘168 chasa’ and the bTV channel, sent invitations to 38 members of the Bulgarian parliament, chosen at random across all party groups.
If they attended the event in question, the MPs were promised a Vertu mobile phone, which normally sells for 3,000 euros, the letter indicated.
The event was staged to coincide with an important debate in parliament.
Nevertheless, 16 MPs from almost every political group turned up at the event, most of them in chauffeur-driven parliament limousines