Spain’s National Police have dismantled a criminal gang that scammed nearly 1.5 million euros from hundreds of people online.
A total of 45 people have been arrested for defrauding 200 people in Spain in 23 regions, including Alicante, Barcelona, Las Palmas, Madrid and Valencia.
The leaders of the organization operated from Benin and used people as “mules”, whom they allegedly threatened with death.
The organization has created fraudulent websites offering computer, electronic and telephone products at extremely low prices. A total of 20 bogus web pages have been detected and closed by the Spanish police.
Payments were made by wire transfer to the accounts of the “mules” and the bank details and personal information of the victims were stored by the gang.
The crooks would then contact the victims and tell them that in order to get their money back, they had to open several bank accounts, apply for credit cards and mail them to different PO boxes in the Republic of Benin.
Once the cards arrived in Africa, large sums of money would be deposited into the victims’ new bank accounts, which would be withdrawn from ATMs in Benin.
The gang also defrauded money by posing as French financiers and advertising bogus loans online where they said victims had to deposit money into an account before getting a loan.
In addition, the organization asked the victims to get a new credit card and send it to Benin, where it was again withdrawn from ATMs.
Almost 1.5 million euros were swindled from unsuspecting victims during the “elaborate fraud process”.
The criminal organization has been found to have strong ties to other European countries such as Germany, Austria, France and Poland, where Europol and Interpol are investigating similar fraudulent web pages.
Additional checks are underway in the Republic of Benin to identify gang leaders.