Fugitive who 'conned pensioners' fears he won't get jab, court hears
24th March 2021

Fugitive ‘conman’ fighting extradition to Hungary from UK claims he can’t be sent back because he won’t get his second COVID JAB, court hears

  • Erno Horvath, 41, and wife Marina Horvath, 33, allegedly tricked elderly people
  • It is said that 220 victims aged between 70 and 96 fell victim to their £3m scam  
  • They are fighting extradition to Hungary where they face a decade behind bars 
  • Erno claims chances of getting second Covid jab will be dashed if he’s extradited

A fugitive fighting extradition to Hungary over allegations that he scammed pensioners in a £3m scam fears he might not get his second Covid vaccine there, a court heard.

Erno Horvath, 41, and his wife Marina Horvath, 33, allegedly tricked elderly people into handing over their cash by telling them their relatives had been in a car crash.

It is said that 220 victims aged between 70 and 96 were convinced that their loved ones needed help paying damages or had been injured.

The couple, who are living in Sheffield, were allegedly ‘at the top’ of a fraud ring, calling pensioners and hiring recruits to wait outside their homes and demand money once the conversation ended.

They are fighting extradition to Hungary where they would face up to a decade behind bars if convicted of the alleged con which took place between January and July 2019.


Erno Horvath, 41, (left) and his wife Marina Horvath, 33, (right) allegedly tricked elderly people into handing over their cash by telling them their relatives had been in a car crash

Their lawyers are arguing they would face prejudice at trial in the eastern European state because of their Roma ethnicity, Westminster Magistrates’ Court has heard.

Erno has a string of health problems including pancreatitis that left him hospitalised, all of which would be complicated by his return to Hungary.

He has already had one coronavirus jab in the UK but claims his chances of full vaccination against the bug might be dashed if he is extradited.

But the alleged fugitive, who is accused of masterminding the scam while he was wanted for four unrelated convictions, refused to give evidence at the extradition hearing today.

Erno fled Hungary and was sentenced in his absence for the crimes with a total of seven years and eight months in jail time that he has yet to serve, prosecutors claim.

Westminster Magistrates Court (stock image), where the court heard Erno’s lawyers claim his chances of getting second Covid jab will be dashed if he’s extradited

He was blasted for lacking the ‘courage’ to answer questions from the prosecution as the court heard there is no medical record of the ‘pancreatitis’ he claims to suffer from.

Erno appeared in the dock today wearing a grey prison tracksuit as the court heard he ‘doesn’t have the courage’ to accept he is wanted for a string of convictions.

Prosecutor Amanda Bostock told District Judge Michael Fanning: ‘There is evidence from the judicial authority to say that he is a fugitive. He denies being a fugitive. He is not willing to answer those questions so I say his evidence is dismissed.

‘He claimed to have had a hospital admission for pancreatitis. What’s quite clear is he’s told the prison he suffered from that but they couldn’t find any records about that to confirm his account because he had used an alias.

‘The documents go on to explain they took his blood and found some pancreatic insufficiency and gallstones, and that is the extent of it.


Marina’s sister Maria Lakatos, 41, (right) and her partner Csaba Nemeth, 42, (left) are also wanted in Hungary for their alleged involvement in the con

‘I do not accept the extent of the medical issues he alleges and in fact nor do the prison doctors.

‘When he says he was hospitalised and put in intensive care, that has not been confirmed by anybody apart from in his own account.

‘I ask you to disregard any speculation about whether he will or won’t be given his second Covid vaccine if he returns to Hungary.

‘We have someone here who is a fugitive.

‘He accepted that to his doctors at Wandsworth, even though he did not have the courage I would submit to accept it before this court.’

Malcolm Hawkes, defending Erno, claimed today that prison transport conditions in Hungary would also violate the husband’s human rights.

‘With this issue of transporting prisoners, shackling prisoners and leading them with a leash sometimes in front of the media, it’s textbook degrading treatment’, Mr Hawkes said.

Erno, of Headford Mews, Sheffield, face 32 counts of fraud, while Marina, of the same address, faces 12 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering.

Marina’s sister Maria Lakatos, 41, and her partner Csaba Nemeth, 42, are also wanted in Hungary for their alleged involvement in the con.

The extradition hearing continues.

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