Romanians behind NGO scam targeting DUO have gone into hiding

The people behind the NGO GCRS, which scammed DUO into paying study finance to Romanian students, have disappeared off the radar.

Founder Dragos Henriett Doicu and his wife, the official president of the Sweden-based GCRS, the Global Confederation of Romanian Students, have removed themselves as freelancers working for the organisation. Doicu has also stopped responding to students working for GCRS and its social media channels have gone silent.  

GCRS paid Romanian students for supposed freelance ‘journalistic work’, as revealed by UKrant in October, so they could fulfil DUO’s hours requirement and qualify for student finances. However, the students hardly had to do any work and the payments came from their own families in the form of ‘donations’ to the NGO. 

Eventually, GCRS stopped paying the students back. Donations amounting to at least 92,000 euros were never reimbursed by GCRS, according to the seventy-four students who filled out a survey by SurvivingGCRS, an online group comprising victims of the NGO’s scheme.

Tax audit

Dragos and Laura Doicu were both paid by the NGO through freelance contracts. However, both of them quit their freelance activities and disappeared from the Swedish public database of freelancers shortly after an audit by the Swedish fiscal authorities at the end of October. 

Around the same time, the NGO stopped posting on their Facebook and Instagram pages, where the students’ ‘work’, in the form of live videos, was regularly showcased. The organisation is still listed as active in the Swedish public database, however. 

Auto-reply

According to SurvivingGCRS, Doicu also stopped responding to members of the organisation in early November. He did eventually set up an auto-reply email for students who wanted to get out of the organisation. When contacted by UKrant, he refused to answer any questions. 

Meanwhile, to prevent fraudulent activities, DUO has introduced a fine for people who have received student finance they had no right to. Previously, you only had to repay the study finance itself. In cases involving significant sums of money and intentional actions or omissions, DUO will also file a report with the Dutch public prosecution service.

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