15-Year-Old(!!!) German Airline Founder Accused Of Fraud

15-Year-Old(!!!) German Airline Founder Accused Of Fraud

43

Remember that story about the 18 year old who wanted to start a German airline to compete with Lufthansa, and claimed to have plans to launch before the end of 2023? Well, as it turns out, he’s allegedly not even 18… but he is serious, in the sense that this wasn’t some school project. Now he’s facing fraud allegations by his business partners, among others.

Over the years we’ve seen quite a few stories about fake airlines, but perhaps aside from Baltia, this has to be the wildest one yet. This whole thing sounds like the plot of a movie I’d totally watch.

The basics of Bavarian Airlines

In January 2023, details were revealed about Bavarian Airlines, an alleged airline startup in Germany that wanted to compete with Lufthansa. According to the details at the time, the company was founded by an 18 year old, and was planning to launch operations before the end of 2023 using leased Embraer E195-E2 aircraft

The claim was that the airline would have a proper business class product, cryptocurrency as its loyalty program, and that it was already awaiting its AOC (Air Operator Certificate).

I wouldn’t have written about this, except for the fact that the mainstream media in German was picking up on this and taking the founder’s claims at face value, approaching it with no skepticism at all. So I felt like it was only fair to write a post expressing skepticism about this concept.

Frankly I was expecting that we just wouldn’t hear much more about the concept, and that of course this would never become a reality. Boy was I wrong. Not about this not becoming a real airline, but about the details that are now coming out.

Bavarian Airlines founder accused of countless fraud

A detailed exposé has just been published in Germany about the founder of Bavarian Airlines, and it includes allegations that he lied about his age, has fake businesses, has not paid back huge sums of money, is engaged in crypto scams, and has presented fake bank documents.

I don’t even want to write the guy’s name in this post, because I almost feel bad (not quite, but almost!), as he’s allegedly 15. Obviously he’s a bright kid (or else he wouldn’t have been able to convince others to support him in this way), and I don’t want to ruin his life more than he already has.

There’s so much to unpack here, so let me just hit on some of the highlights…

First of all, apparently the founder is 15, and not 18. A business partner showed the investigative journalist the kid’s ID after he became suspicious of what was going on. Furthermore, one of the kid’s many LinkedIn profiles shows he will graduate high school in 2026. Further, in 2018 he was enrolled in a taekwondo school for 10 to 12 year olds. The kid rejects these claims, but also refuses to show ID.

Next, the kid showed documents that he has three million Swiss francs in his business account, but claimed the account was frozen. Therefore he asked an investor to finance around 45,000 euro worth of flights, hotel stays, and business dinners, which haven’t yet been paid back. He found out that the kid owes other people 120,000 euro, for things including consulting, PR, and security. It was later determined that these bank statements were fake. The kid now claims he never showed anyone bank statements.

This investor also financed a meeting that took place in Malta with Universal Airlines. The plan was for Bavarian Airlines to wet lease aircraft from the carrier, and essentially start as a virtual airline. Universal Airlines allegedly billed 300,000 euro for launching this partnership, which has yet to be paid. The kid claims the bill was paid.

A real estate agent also claims to have been defrauded by the kid. He apparently wanted to buy a roughly three million euro apartment in Frankfurt and entered into a deal, but never paid. The agent lost out on a 100,000 euro commission, and was stuck with bills related to the transaction. The kid claims he already made a payment of one million euro.

The kid was reportedly detailed by the police at Düsseldorf Airport a few days ago. According to his former business partner, this was related to establishing his identity documents. He was later released. I imagine he has some major legal trouble coming his way.

Look, there’s so much more to the story, and I could go on and on, but what’s the point really?

What a story…

First of all, obviously this kid is really convincing and intelligent, or else he wouldn’t have gotten so much support from investors. It’s sad that he’s ruining his life in this way at such a young age, since he’s not even an adult. It seems he’s just digging himself deeper and deeper.

While I have some sympathy for the victims here, is it wrong that I don’t actually feel that bad? I mean, did no one do the slightest bit of research before throwing money at this idea?

It sounds like this isn’t that different than giving your information to scammers on the phone. However, I think the people who are victims here aren’t necessarily as vulnerable as the seniors that are typically targeted in phone scams. They all wanted to get involved in the business and make money, and didn’t do their due diligence.

Bottom line

Look, it was pretty obvious to me from the beginning that Bavarian Airlines was suspicious. But it’s way, way, way more shocking than I could have expected. Research into the company reveals that the person behind it is just 15 years old, and owes a lot of money to a lot of people.

I still can’t believe how little research anyone did, from the mainstream media in Germany that covered the airline concept at face value, to the investors.

By the way, following the story I wrote, this kid sent me an email accusing me of being unprofessional, and sending me a few documents. Maybe I should post those here, since I imagine they were doctored as well?

What do you make of this Bavarian Airlines update?

Conversations (43)
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  1. Euro Aviation Guest

    "I don’t want to ruin his life more than he already has."

    Why not? He deserves it.

    1. JM Guest

      The kid committed fraud, sure.

      But anyone stupid enough to invest in a business with such little substance clearly didn't bother with even the most basic due diligence, and should write off this loss as an expensive lesson in being an investor

  2. frrp Diamond

    So the little shit will get no actual punishment due to his age and no doubt go on to be nothing but a professional scammer

  3. Goforride Gold

    Fraud?

    Who would have guessed.

  4. Andy 11235 Guest

    "Next, the kid showed documents that he has three million Swiss francs in his business account, but claimed the account was frozen." And I have just discovered that you are the primary inheritor name in the will of a recently deceased Nigerian prince. If you would kindly wire $150,000 to my account for the payment of various fees...

    1. Goforride Gold

      I have documents showing that I am the king of Siam.

  5. Nick Guest

    "Next, the kid showed documents that he has three million Swiss francs in his business account, but claimed the account was frozen. Therefore he asked an investor to finance around 45,000 euro worth of flights, hotel stays, and business dinners, which haven’t yet been paid back."

    LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL imagine being a fully grown adult, and getting scammed by a 15yo LOL LOL LOL.

  6. Ripty Guest

    "Is it wrong that I don't feel bad"

    Yes it is. This kid obviously forged some significant legal documentation to convince others he was legit. The law should not be lenient on him, in New Zealand right now we have a huge problem with Ram raiding because the law is too lenient on people under 18. We have children groomed to do crimes 2 or 3 times before any sort of significant punishment is done....

    "Is it wrong that I don't feel bad"

    Yes it is. This kid obviously forged some significant legal documentation to convince others he was legit. The law should not be lenient on him, in New Zealand right now we have a huge problem with Ram raiding because the law is too lenient on people under 18. We have children groomed to do crimes 2 or 3 times before any sort of significant punishment is done. This kid needs to be given the full extent of the law to put off any 17 year olds from committing fraud.

    1. JM Guest

      There will be some serious consequences without doubt, but serious questions of anyone who invested in this "business" have to be asked.

      How stupid can you be?

  7. vlcnc Guest

    It's amazing how the aviation industry is just a magnet for scams. Not sure if you are aware Ben but Italy has a new airline, AeroItalia, and whilst it does have actually planes and is flying it does feel a bit off especially with its erratic strop-start scheduling and deeply odd base at Forli Airport of all places...

  8. iamhere Guest

    Can we just stick to issues that affect my points and miles strategy. I thought that is what this blog was about rather than a travel news site.

    1. Dempseyzdad Diamond

      Well, of course it's all about you isn't it? It must be very difficult to skip over the posts you are not interested in.
      "I don't like it, so neither should you". Such a republican response.

  9. GUWonder Guest

    If he were 13, he would be under the age to be held criminally responsible in Germany. Between 14 and 18 years of age, it’s the juvenile criminal justice system for him. He’s lucky he’s not in the US, as the juvenile criminal justice system in the US is much more likely to make for hardened career criminals than Germany.

  10. Stuart Guest

    Well, I am red faced. I actually questioned Ben on why he felt this was so sketchy and posted a comment that it seemed like an interesting concept. It certainly seemed far more legitimate than the other absurd start ups that have been posted here.

    The kid, despite his crimes and the many fraudulent things he did, had some unique ideas. At least he didn't start with plans to operate A380's on thin routes....

    Well, I am red faced. I actually questioned Ben on why he felt this was so sketchy and posted a comment that it seemed like an interesting concept. It certainly seemed far more legitimate than the other absurd start ups that have been posted here.

    The kid, despite his crimes and the many fraudulent things he did, had some unique ideas. At least he didn't start with plans to operate A380's on thin routes. Maybe one of the investors should just take the basics of his concept and run with it on their own.

  11. David Diamond

    Sounds like the German media wasn't stupid; they just didn't care about the truth of the story.'

    If it's true, they broke a story about a teen airline founder.

    If it's false, they now have another story about how the teen is a scammer.

  12. Aldyzest Guest

    Male version of Anna Sorkin

    German is something else

  13. Eskimo Guest

    When can we stop all these age discrimination.
    Give different treatments to people under 18 or over 65?
    Why should seniors get discounts and juveniles get away with murder?

    Time for us (especially Americans?) to "woke" on this.

    I'm sure if this fraud was from a 35 year old the story would be completely different. Why would a 15 year old tell the truth and start lying on the 18th birthday. Isn't children...

    When can we stop all these age discrimination.
    Give different treatments to people under 18 or over 65?
    Why should seniors get discounts and juveniles get away with murder?

    Time for us (especially Americans?) to "woke" on this.

    I'm sure if this fraud was from a 35 year old the story would be completely different. Why would a 15 year old tell the truth and start lying on the 18th birthday. Isn't children good story tellers?

    Go ask George Santos', or whatever his name is, childhood friend what age did he start telling stories.

    1. John Guest

      You dumb-ass. Children and adults are different (duh!). Hence the different approaches.

    2. David Diamond

      You're right. If a baby or toddle bites me, we should be able to take the baby to court and throw him/her in prison.

    3. Koggerj Guest

      Lefties are braindead thanks for proving that once more

    4. JM Guest

      Truly a brain-dead comment

      Legal definitions of adults and children exist for a reason.

      The prison system is failing if recidivism among teenage criminals is so high, not the legal definition of child and adult.

  14. snic Diamond

    Where have I heard this story before? Oh yes! Anna Sorokin.

    What was it that PT Barnum said about the birth rate of suckers?

    1. stuart Guest

      A sucker born every minute? So very very true

  15. tok Guest

    For the record, he is Turkish and neither Bavarian nor German.

    1. Kevin S Guest

      How do you know that? Or do you just assume because of the name? As if someone with a turkish name could not be german and bavarian!

    2. Max Guest

      The German society originally is a high trust society. Foreign transplants such as this Turk or the russian Anna Sorokin sadly have destroyed this high-trust society more and more.

    3. JM Guest

      He's Swiss-Estonian apparently

      Not very hard to google instead of just posting?

  16. Matt Guest

    I think this kid should move to the US, marry an American woman to get his citizenship, and then run as a Republican for a House of Representatives seat in New York State. Next thing you know he is the Vice President of the US.

    1. edgar Guest

      Hahahahhaha!!!! Awesome comment!!

  17. Levi Diamond

    It's not surprising that the German media fell for this, given how the media closed ranks around Wirecard.

    Though given how the German financial regulators closed ranks to protect Wirecard, perhaps it's just that fraud isn't really a crime in Germany.

  18. Annie Guest

    Isn't Anna Delvey from Germany as well? Plot is different, but similar type of deception.

    1. Max Guest

      She is a russian who grew up in Germany.
      And the boy from the story above is also not German, but from Turkey.

      Sadly the German government in recent years has been way to lax in admitting people into the country. And also too lax to send back criminals. It’s only getting worse, now they’re also planning to hand out German citizenships like free candy.

    2. Mantis Guest

      @Max

      Of course, Socialists are always looking to import new victims to trade handouts for votes...until it all implodes when they run out of OPM and society implodes. Same thing is happening here.

  19. Bhs Guest

    Who does this Doogie Howser of the skies think he is? Hilarious. And those investors ... wow the brains.

  20. Serge t Guest

    Please post them. It’s only fair since you mentioned them.

  21. Joseph Guest

    It’s the kid from Reddit lol

  22. Nelson Diamond

    "This whole thing sounds like the plot of a movie I’d totally watch."
    Ben, I'm quite sure they are already working on it in Hollywood.
    That guy should be rewarded for what he achieved, like you mentioned, it's amazing how stupid people can "invest" money in something they don't even know.

  23. Icarus Guest

    Adem Karagöz https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/airlines-lessors/teenage-founder-bavarian-airlines-shares-ambitious-plans

    Old enough to defraud people. Old enough to do time.

  24. Jeremy Guest

    Pivoting to small German airline that actually exists, will you be reviewing Rhein-Neckar Air anytime soon. They have several route but only one (1!) plane, and are the only commercial service out of Mannheim. I'm considering flying them to Sylt this summer when the Lindner there officially joins WOH.

  25. Vinod Mirchandani Guest

    Hi Ben. Yes it would be very much appreciated if you could post those documents that he sent to you. I'm sure everyone's itching to know what he sent you

  26. Never In Doubt Guest

    Shocked! Shocked, I say!

    "Maybe I should post those here, since I imagine they were doctored as well?"

    YES

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Kevin S Guest

How do you know that? Or do you just assume because of the name? As if someone with a turkish name could not be german and bavarian!

2
Serge t Guest

Please post them. It’s only fair since you mentioned them.

2
Icarus Guest

Adem Karagöz https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/airlines-lessors/teenage-founder-bavarian-airlines-shares-ambitious-plans Old enough to defraud people. Old enough to do time.

2
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