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Whatever happened to the Farmville Eight?

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Editorial Staff

This is a story about how eight men used Facebook to claim (and be paid) grants from the European Union for their cattle farms. The story fizzled out in 2013 and we want to know what happened. Does anyone know? (free content)

Eight men in Romania started playing the Facebook game Farmville. As their farms grew, one of them read the EU subsidy scheme for cattle farmers in Romania and realised that nowhere did it specify that the cattle had to be real. So they applied for grants for their e-cattle. And got it. Yes, there's an argument that the fact that they produced receipts for payment for the cows was fraudulent but they paid for them within the rules of the game so that's not an argument that can be fully made.

They also had (somewhere, somehow) some actual cows that they were able to produce to inspectors.

But the money-making scheme was for 1,860 cows each earning around 0.5 euro per year.

After three years, the authorities stopped the payments but did not accuse them of fraud. Emboldened, the men announced that they planned to sue for their continued income on the basis that, if they weren't told they needed real cows, then e-cows met the criteria.

And that's where the story runs out of legs. It's a funny story and we'd like to know how it turned out so if you know, please drop us a line. Thanks!