22nd May 2024
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Guardia Civil dismantle holiday rental scam that targeted tourists across Spain

Spain’s Guardia Civil have dismantled a criminal organisation specialising in a holiday rental scam and targeting tourists across the country.

In a statement, the police said that the ‘Rent Scam’ organisation was made up of 42 people and allegedly led by a man who ran it all from prison. They said that the gang specialised in ‘computer scams related to vacation accommodation’, and that 128 scams had already been identified. They have not ruled out further scams coming to light.

29 people have so far been arrested and another 13 are under investigation. The arrests were carried out simultaneously in the provinces of Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, Pontevedra, A Coruña, Valencia, Alicante, Castellón, Ibiza, Bilbao, Santander, Huelva, Cádiz, Málaga, Granada, Murcia, Barcelona and Tarragona.

The operation began last September, when the Guardia Civil detected an increase in complaints related to vacation scams on various specialised platforms and websites.

With the information provided by the victims, an exhaustive study of the pages where the accommodation was offered was carried out, verifying how those responsible placed adverts on legal platforms in which they offered accommodation at a lower price than the market, in order to capture the attention of the victims and then collect the money in advance.

The agents were then able to verify the existence of a complex criminal organisation that was divided into sub-groups throughout Spain, locating and relating them to more than a hundred criminal acts.

The police said the ‘network acted in different groups that were led by a man with a long criminal record for computer scams, and who directed them from a prison where he was an inmate’.

To commit the scams, the police said that part of the organisation travelled to places where there were attractive properties, taking photographs of them to later be used by another sub-group, which was in charge of placing the adverts.

Another group was in charge of capturing false documentation to open bank accounts where the money from the scams would end up, as well as emails and telephone numbers that were associated with the adverts. Finally, there was the network of ‘mules’ in charge of transferring the proceeds of the crime between other bank accounts and thus making it difficult to trace the money, as well as using other IDs to withdraw the money from ATMs.

The 42 members of the group are 12 women and 30 men, the vast majority with police records for similar acts. All of them are accused of computer fraud, integration into a criminal organisation, identity theft and money laundering. More than 75 bank accounts used by the gang have been blocked.

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1 comment

Gail Carberry 17th April 2023 at 8:46 am

Greatest story ever – Masterchef and food poisoning. Well done!

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