By John Ensor • 23 August 2023 • 10:04
Passengers collecting suitcases at the airport.
Credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com
Police have arrested a group of fraudsters who swindled thousands in what has become known as a suitcase scam at airports around Spain.
A report published on August 21 by the Policia Nacional gave details of a crackdown on a criminal group operating out of Madrid, who had conned unsuspecting victims out of over €6,500. This operation was initiated after the director of a bank flagged multiple fraudulent activities linked to this scam.
The airport suitcase scam involves fraudsters sending out bulk messages. They pretend to be friends or relatives stuck abroad, urgently needing money for taxes, fines, or luggage shipments. Typically, they claim that due to last-minute documentation issues, they couldn’t board their flight, but their luggage did.
They then lure victims to the airport with seemingly legitimate billing receipts, suggesting fees need to be paid. The scammer then swiftly requests money via a payment app, promising to retrieve their belongings once they’re back in Spain.
The Central Cybercrime Unit initiated the investigation after a bank director reported multiple instances of this scam. Through rigorous analysis of dozens of complaints, emails, phone lines, and bank accounts, the agents identified the culprits. Four members of this criminal network were pinpointed, two of whom were arrested in Madrid. Together, they had orchestrated over 100 scams across the country.
Various banking entities, service providers, and instant money transfer companies provided crucial information for the investigation. After analysing bank accounts and ownership details, it was determined that the group had amassed a total profit of over €6,500 from their fraudulent activities.
To steer clear of the airport suitcase scam, be sceptical of messages from unfamiliar numbers. Always verify with the supposed friend or relative, and even the airline if necessary. If you suspect a scam, block the number immediately and report it to the National Police. Moreover, never transfer money unless you’re certain of the recipient’s identity.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.
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