6 July 2019
Police get their cyber-man – internet ‘fraudster’ arrested in Spain
A MAN alleged to be the biggest cyber-scammer in Spanish history and the nation’s most wanted man, has been arrested.
The 23-year-old from Madrid had 25 warrants for arrests issued by courts throughout Spain outstanding for a prolific series of internet scams where he cheated his unsuspecting victims out of vast sums of money.
Guardia Civil allege that at times he was making €300,000 a month, with gang members being paid a salary for their work.
During the police operation, more than 30 fraudulent online stores managed by the detainee were discovered.
Along with the alleged head of the gang a man who police believe acted as the “computer scientist” and the person responsible for recruiting “mules” to launder their ill-gotten gains have been arrested. All three have been remanded in custody.
Due to the large number of people affected by these scams, the Department of Telematic Crimes of UCO, has set up a website where people can make complaints www.gdt.guardiacivil.es/webgdt/afectadoslupin.php
The operation began after a specialist cyber-crime unit of the Guardia Civil detected a series of possible scams that affected huge numbers of people around Spain. Each scam was similar, which led police to believe the same people were responsible.
The cyber-scams mainly involved the sale of consumer electronics on fraudulent online stores, through websites copied from legal and reputable online portals.
They used their logos and brand names to trick users. To try to throw authorities off track, the fake stores were only online for a few days – often just a weekend – before disappearing without a trace.
In that short period, the page would be subjected to an intense advertising campaign and web positioning in the main search engines and social networks with eye-catching offers, all with the intention of attracting as many potential buyers in the shortest possible time.
The products offered in these web pages were mainly consumer electronics, especially game consoles and mobile phones.
They also advertised high value seasonal products – air conditioners in summer and heaters in winter.
To pay for the ‘products’ victims were asked to send bank transfers but the goods would never arrive. This money would be deposited in the accounts of a series of “mules”. These were people who would set up bank accounts in exchange for as little as €100. The scammers would then use cash points to withdraw the money, sometimes tens of thousands a day.
Although the police investigation has been ongoing for a year, investigators believe the main suspect may have been scamming the public for three years.