By John Ensor •
Published: 09 Dec 2023 • 17:49
Six arrested in Barcelona.
Have you ever wondered how safe your bank details are? In a recent crackdown, the Guardia Civil has apprehended a group of scammers in Barcelona, who were experts in telephone fraud techniques.
A recent report from the Guardia Civil revealed how they arrested six individuals, forming part of an organized scamming network.
This group, specializing in telephone ‘spoofing,’ in which they targeted at least 60 people in the Balearic Islands, defrauding them of a staggering €1.5 million
Initially, the fraudsters employed a tactic known as ‘smishing’. They sent SMS messages, impersonating banks, and alarmed the victims with false statements of unauthorised account access.
These messages contained links that led to bogus websites controlled by the scammers, capturing victims’ banking credentials. The fake bank representative, known as ‘Alex Garcia’, became so notorious that he was mentioned in various press articles, warning the public about his schemes.
When ‘smishing’ did not suffice, the criminals advanced to ‘caller ID spoofing’. They mimicked the actual phone numbers of bank branches, phoned their victims, and faked alerts about fraudulent account activities.
They then requested the security codes sent via SMS, supposedly to cancel these fake transactions, thereby completing the scam.
In instances where direct scams failed, the group resorted to ‘vishing’. They impersonated victims in phone calls to banks, arranging for fund transfers.
This persistence in their criminal efforts led to significant financial damages, with the Balearic Islands alone reporting around 60 victims. The total swindled amount across several provinces is estimated to be over €1.5 million.
The Guardia Civil’s investigation, named Operation ‘Fretus,’ successfully blocked fraudulent transactions worth €200,000. In turn, this money was returned to the accounts of the rightful owners.
Additionally, during house searches, key electronic devices used by the perpetrators were seized, along with a luxury vehicle worth €50,000, bought in cryptocurrencies by the group’s leader.
The arrested individuals include six people all of them aged between 16 and 22. The four adults have been remanded in custody, while the investigation remains open further arrests have not been ruled out.
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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.
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