By Fergal MacErlean • 23 April 2022 • 12:49
The Guardia Civil´s Operation Loverboy, is investigating the alleged perpetrators of love scams, carried out from Spain, with connections in Italy, UK and Nigeria, the force said in a statement on April 23.
The operation began in June 2021, when one of the victims informed the Guardia Civil that she had been swindled over the internet for months.
The perpetrators had gained the trust of the victim getting them to make bank transfers of more than €34,000.
During the course of the investigation, the Guardia Civil detected nine victims of Spanish nationality, with addresses in Huelva, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Oviedo, and the Basque Country.
The type of scam, also known as “fake virtual boyfriend/girlfriend”, consists of the offender taking advantage of the victim’s psychological vulnerability to create a false identity.
In some cases, they pose as Hollywood actors and actresses, feigning a love or sexual interest, which usually leads to a virtual relationship that can last several months before gaining the trust of the victim.
Once a bond is established and the victim shows some confidence, he begins to ask for money, claiming that he cannot dispose of his own assets since he is in another country, that it is for charitable causes or to be able to dispose of a millionaire inheritance of which he is the recipient.
Once the first money payment is made, the deception usually continues making the victim believe that he is going to come to live in Spain.
The fraudsters will continue to demand money, for airline tickets and other costs.
The Guardia Civil recommends not to trust unknown contacts requesting money transfers.
It is also recommended to report any suspicious activity as soon as possible to police authorities.
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Originally from Dublin, Fergal is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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