Police shut down €10 million pyramid scam on Spain’s Costa Blanca

Police have shut down a fraudulent pyramid scheme which conned more than 250 people out of €10 million on Spain’s Costa Blanca.

EIGHT people have been arrested and and seven others are being investigated on suspicion of being members of a criminal organisation, money laundering, fraud, false documentation and crimes against the public finances.

As part of the operation searches were carried out in Murcia, Sucina, Torrevieja, Callosa de Segura and Redovan, according to the Instituto Armado, and police seized almost €200,000, 34,600 Swiss francs, four top-of-the-range cars, extensive documentation, electronic effects and a banknote counting machine.

As part of the operation, 43 bank accounts have also been blocked.

The investigation began in February 2019 following a complaint by a Madrid-based bank which claimed its name had been used as a “back up” to attract investors to a pyramid scheme.

The bank reported €1.5 million had been transferred from the account of one of the suspected network members, pointing to a “clear case of money laundering”.

In an investigation that lasted more than a year, the Guardia Civil discovered more than 20 people were involved in the “complex criminal organisation”, the leader of which invested in the stock market with money scammed from third parties.

The rest of the network were responsible for attracting new investors, including relatives, in exchange for a profit of the capital invested.

The bait used was the promise of high returns, between 15 and 30 per cent, well above the average interest offered in the traditional market.

In order to make the investors believe they were a “serious and safe company”, the conmen paid out the first interest payments, but once they had “hooked” important amounts, stopped paying.

To avoid complaints, the swindlers renegotiated the debt, offering returns of only 10 per cent of the capital invested, which investors accepted, fearing that if they refused they would lose all of their money.

This tactic enabled the gang to raise €10 million, though it is believed the figure could be higher.

The Guardia Civil has recommended anybody considering investing privately should consult official websites beforehand.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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