Media hack: Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister investigates a non-existent company

In the early August 2019 a penetrating stench filled the capital of Hungary. No one knew where did the mysterious stink came from, but almost the whole city suffered from it. An email sent to various media, signed by a non-existent representative of a non-existent company, „Garden Railway of Óbarok Ltd.” claimed responsibility. The media hack turned into an official investigation of the imaginary company’s wrongdoings, according to an official statement given by Balázs Orbán, under-secretary of the of Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office.

A few days after the stench was noticed all around Budapest, Ildikó Bangóné Borbély, an MP of the Hungarian Socialist Party asked the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, if they had found out, where the stink came from.

Balázs Orbán, under-secretary of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office answered that they are investigating the perpetrator, „Garden Railway of Óbarok Ltd.”, which admitted they caused the trouble. The competent public institutions are investigating the case, and they will conduct more on-site investigations at the perpetrator’s premises in the future.

The problem is that this company never existed, has no trace in the company register either. Moreover, the mayor of Óbarok, a village not far from Budapest, also confirmed there is no business in their village by this name.

Atlatszo’s open source research revealed that the fictive name of the fictive company’s representative has been used several times in similarly fake emails and misleading statements. The supposed perpetrator of these media hacks is Béla Egres, a man living in Pécs, who denies any wrongdoing, and claims that someone is abusing his identity.

According to various statements available on the internet, the middle-aged man heads an also non-existent nonprofit organization named „The Future Generation”, and often makes media statements on behalf of different political parties, companies, and groups without the knowledge of those he is misrepresenting.

Atlatszo reporters visited Egres in his home in the city of Pécs: he denies being the real author behind the fake email statement of „Garden Railway of Óbarok Ltd.”. Egres claims someone often steals his name to write fake letters like this, because they want to ruin his reputation. He did not make a police complaint about the media hack.

When confronted with being duped by a hoax, Balázs Orbán, under-secretary of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office promised a thorough investigation and immediate personal consequences about the misleading information being spread by government offices.

Written and translated by Eszter Katus

You can read the original, Hungarian language story here.