Two arrested in Axarquia international tropical fruit scam

National Police officers.
National Police officers. / SUR
  • The victim had already sent produce worth 50,000 euros to Italy before he became aware of the fraud

National Police officers in Vélez-Málaga have helped dismantle a group that allegedly scammed businessmen through the purchase of tropical fruits. So far, two people have been arrested on fraud and forgery of document charges.

Police said the pair posed as salespeople for an Italian company, negotiating fruit supply contracts, that included mangoes and avocados.

In a statement, the force said the two were part of a scam contacting businessmen from companies that supply products that are easy to resell on the black market. Once they gained their trust - paying upfront - with small orders, they would place a large order which they would resell when it arrived – but disappear without paying the bill – and without trace.

When the Axarquia victim became aware of the fraud, more than 50,000 euros in products such as avocados and mangoes had already been sent. The businessman said that during negotiations over the deal he was shown an insurance document provided cover in case of any problem in the collection of any payments.

Police investigations eventually found that the network was headed by a 54-year-old Italian man, who used others to carry out the scams in Spain. The merchandise was destined for Italy, although, according to the police enquiries, the fruit consignments were routed via Barcelona and Almeria.

The operation culminated in the arrest of two people and the identification of the alleged leader of the scam. Among those now being investigated are the person in charge of an Italian company, who was arrested in Barcelona, and another member of the network, in charge of logistics tasks, who was arrested at a police control in the town of Sitges.