By Anna Ellis • 28 July 2022 • 14:52
Spain's National Police dismantles a criminal group of romance scammers. Image; National Police Spain/Twitter
The members of the network operated at a national and international level, making their victims believe that they had a romantic relationship at a distance, the Spanish government confirmed on Thursday, July 28.
The scammers would request money to cover expenses – such as fictitious trips or medical treatment – so a meeting between them and the scammed romantic partner could be possible.
Spain’s National Police worked with the collaboration of EUROPOL and INTERPOL.
The investigation began in September 2021 when Spain’s National Police agents received a complaint sent by Interpol-Dublin. A woman reported that she had been the victim of a form of fraud known as a romance scam.
In her specific case, a stranger contacted her through a false profile on a social network and they began an alleged romantic relationship.
Abusing the trust that existed between them, the man asked her for money on numerous occasions, and she felt harassed by the urgency of the request.
The victim then made several bank transfers two of which were to a Spanish bank account.
National Police agents obtained information on the connection IP addresses of the fraudulent movements, which were geolocated both in Spain and Italy.
After several police efforts, the investigations focused on other potential Spanish victims who, through the same modus operandi, could have been scammed.
The agents confirmed the existence of transfers to this and other Spanish bank accounts opened by members of the organization.
They also detected money transfers through a well-known international money transfer company.
The investigation revealed that the members of the organization based in Spain were based in cities such as Barcelona, Alicante, Vitoria and Pamplona, although the criminal network extended to other European countries, such as Ireland.
The fraud involved more than €20,000 and the victims tended to be elderly.
The victims of this type of scam generally tend to be elderly people who are alone at home, without a job and with little social life.
In addition, many of them refuse to report the facts because either they do not see it as a crime as they continue to be deceived into believing in the alleged romantic relationship, or they are ashamed of what happened.
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Originally from the UK, Anna is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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