Friday, 12 May 2023, 14:36
The National Police have uncovered a major scam involving immigration appointments for foreigners in Spain.
Officers arrested 69 people in 17 provinces and investigated another 25 people for their alleged part in a scheme that blocked the National Police online appointment system for foreigners with a computer bot. Available appointments were then sold, despite it being a free process.
Foreign citizens wanting to make appointments were often forced to seek other options, or contact the owners or intermediaries of the bot who ordered them to pay between 30 and 200 euros for an appointment.
Investigations started after a series of complaints by foreign citizens in Spain trying to access the appointment system, an essential service for submitting mandatory immigration documents and applications throughout the country.
Police discovered a criminal network that used a computer bot, which obtained almost all of the available personal appointments.
The bot made the system inaccessible to users, and interrupted normal access to a free public service, which is provided by the National Police, responsible for carrying out immigration matters.
The bot which was able to bypass cybersecurity operated 24 hours a day. Lawyer Juan Gonzalo Ospina, who is defending several of those arrested in the operation, said that "police investigations point to a computer hacking offence" and called for "respect for those under investigation" and said that among them "there could be victims of the mafia itself".
There were arrests in Madrid, Albacete, Alicante, Almeria, Badajoz, Barcelona, Vizcaya, Burgos, Cadiz, Cordoba, Baleares, Marbella, Murcia, Tarragona, Tenerife, Toledo and Valencia.
Those arrested are suspected of allegedly belonging to a criminal organisation and causing computer damage.
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