File photograph. / SUR

Cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, promising to make people rich, smashed by police

The nationwide operation used tactics similar to those of a cult to lure young people in, according to National Police officers

IRENE QUIRANTE

National Police officers have arrested eight people, including one in Malaga, who are believed to be the leaders of a gang that lured people into a pyramid scheme with the promise of “making them rich”. The operation was nationwide and scammed youngsters by assuring them they would enjoy a “life full of luxury” if they went through the training.

The police say the gang claimed to train people in financial investment but in reality they ran a pyramid scheme by targeting young people in parks, hospitality venues and at school events. The training would focus on crypto currency.

Sources in the National Police's UDEF branch confirm that many of the network's victims live in Malaga. Parents had raised the alarn about the scam after noticing strange behaviour in their offspring, some of who are still minors.

According to the police, the group used cult-like techniques to draw the children in, get them to drop out of school and break ties to their families. Two youths, both aged 17, left their families to live with members of the group.

A complaint made in 2019 by an association of cult victims led officers to the group. They then found out about a training academy that was recruiting young people. It started in Barcelona before it expanded all over Spain, with the presumed intention of training young people in trading and cryptocurrency. The academy charged a 200 euro registration fee and then 150 euros per month. If the individuals enrolled another two people they would stop paying the monthly fee. A third enrollment meant they would start making money from the pyramid scheme.

Eight people have been arrested, so far. They are suspected of fraud, misleading advertising and belonging to a criminal organisation. The main leaders of the gang were detained in Malaga, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Barcelona, Alicante and Tarragona.