(GIGLIO, Italy) — A trio of alleged scammers has been caught allegedly faking a death on the cruise ship liner Costa Concordia in the first sign that con artists are targeting the crippled ship. The scam was detected by New York lawyer Peter Ronai, who speaks Hungarian and is representing six Hungarian survivors from the ship wreck.
Ronai’s claims were corroborated by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, which said they grew “suspicious” about a mother’s claim that her daughter was missing on the ship when they discovered that the alleged missing woman’s mother had been dead for three years.
“It was absolutely clear that it was a fake story, so we treated the request as a face action,” Jozsef Toth, the head of the press department at the Foreign Ministry of Hungary told ABC News. “We have initiated an investigation about the matter, who is this person and who made this report and what was the motivation? The investigation is ongoing.”
A spokesman for the ministry said all of the suspects would face criminal charges.
The fraud became public as officials pulled another body from the wrecked ship, bringing the total of confirmed deaths to 16, with 16 others still missing. The missing include a couple from Minnesota.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kareem Khadder, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Margot Haddad, Livia Borghese and Angela Dewan, CNN