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International gang that tricked 50 victims out of 31 million euros from a call centre in Malaga busted
Fraud

International gang that tricked 50 victims out of 31 million euros from a call centre in Malaga busted

The perpetrators harassed people over the phone to get them to invest money in listed assets

E. Press

Friday, 19 April 2024, 12:20

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The Guardia Civil has broken up an international network of scammers in the Spanish city of Ciudad Real that targeted more than 50 victims, tricking them out of almost 31 million euros.

Four of the ringleaders have been arrested and five others have been investigated for crimes of fraud, money laundering and discovery and disclosure of secrets.

In a press release the Guardia Civil reported that operation 'Erebu', as it has been called, has lasted almost three years since it began in 2021 as a result of an injunction from a court in Manzanares (Ciudad Real).

The court asked the Guardia Civil to investigate a complaint for an alleged fraud offence amounting to almost 14,000 euros, in which the victim reported that he had been tricked out of the money on a trading platform which dealt with the buying and selling of listed assets.

This is how they operated

The criminal organisation worked from a call centre in Malaga with dozens of Spanish, Polish, Swedish and Italian-speaking telephone operators targeting both national and foreign people. Potential victims were recruited mainly through mass telephone calls to numbers obtained from illegal databases, although their details were also accessed through internet banners.

After gaining access to the data, they contacted the victims by harassing them with repeated calls in order to obtain a small start-up investment. Once they had created a connection with the victim, they increased the degree of pressure, extracting information on the maximum amount of money they could provide at that moment, thus offering them a supposedly very interesting offer, but telling the victims that the operation had to be done quickly.

Once the first investments were made, the telephone operators referred them to a fictitious website where the victims could see the money invested and the false profitability they were receiving. However, when the investors wanted to get their money, the telephone operators began to claim that the platform was experiencing technical problems and gave other excuses as to why they couldn't return the investment. Eventually after much insistence, complaints and some claims, they returned a minimal part or left the account at zero.

With the help of international cooperation requested from nine countries through Europol, details of the connections outside the country were obtained which helped to identify dozens of other victims in Poland, all tricked out of their money from the Malaga 'call centre'.

The investigation revealed that the gang used several companies and bank accounts in Cyprus, Greece, Germany and Spain to channel the flow of the money.

Some of the money obtained was used to buy vehicles, purchases, travel and private parties with paid expenses for the employees, who also received high commissions as bonuses.

Two phases of the operation

This operation was carried out in two phases: in the first phase, officers entered and searched buildings in Malaga province, arresting four people and seizing numerous documents and hard disks with relevant information for the investigation. In addition three vehicles and 454,131 euros were seized and 17 accounts were blocked.

During the second phase the remaining five perpetrators were investigated, four of whom were living abroad. The fifth person was identified by a private detective from Palma de Mallorca who, posing as victim, obtained first-hand information about the fraudsters.

The investigation has been carried out in coordination with the court in Manzanares that issued the original injunction.

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