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News Release

Monday, May 22, 2000

Media Relations

Bunco suspect turns Burglar

Los Angeles - On Wednesday, May 17, 2000, Defendant Christian Peter Karlhuber, 29 years old, was arrested for a series of thefts by false pretenses. He is an Austrian citizen who is living in the Netherlands. Karlhuber entered LAX on March 29, 2000, and began masquerading as a wealthy software developer. He convinced victims that he had sold a software program to Bill Gates of Microsoft for $10 million.

Karlhuber stole over $200,000 in property and services during a six-week crime spree. Without producing any funds, he obtained a zero balance checking account and proceeded to write over $196,000 in bad checks. He rented cars, attempted to buy property, and hired a financial consultant to manage money he did not have. Many people loaned him money believing he was transferring millions of dollars from a Dutch bank.

On Monday, May 15, 2000, Karlhuber personally contacted many victims he owed money to and invited them to attend a dinner at a restaurant in Encino the following evening. He stated he would bring his attorney and pay back the money owed. While the victims were assembled waiting for him, Karlhuber burglarized the home of one of the victims, taking $190,000 in paintings by Fernando Botero as well as cash and a passport. This property is still outstanding.

On Friday, May 19, 2000, the case was presented to Deputy District Attorney David Ross in Van Nuys. He filed (1) count of Burglary, (3) counts of Grand Theft, and (2) counts of attempt Grand Theft. Karlhuber is being held on $1 million bail.

Karlhuber is a self-professed computer hacker. He is also being investigated for possible attempts to access Defense Department and White House computer files.

Anyone who has been victimized by Karlhuber or knows the location of the Botero paintings, is asked to contact Detectives Don Hrycyk and Kara Clifford of Burglary-Auto Theft Division, Art Theft Detail, at 213-485-2524.