THE GUARDIA CIVIL have arrested 16 people for defrauding a woman out of €237,622 by intercepting and altering emails to trick her during a Costa Blanca property purchase.
Investigations started in March following a complaint filed by an Alicante province resident who reported having been scammed using the so-called ‘Man in the Middle’ method when she was going through the process of a buying a house in Moraira.
The cyber criminals were based in Barcelona and intercepted the emails she had exchanged with a manager who brokered the property purchase.
They manipulated the email containing the bank account number where her payment was to be made, with victim making a transfer to the gang’s account.
The Guardia Civil discovered that the gang operated from a central Barcelona office and identified its leader- a man with a history of fraud and other criminal acts.
He owned several companies that facilitated frauds and and money laundering, allegedly offering services, sale of electronic gear, and the management of real estate and investments.
Between November 27 and December 1, two searches were carried out in Barcelona- one at the gang leader’s office and the other at his home.
The raids led to the arrest of 13 men and three women, aged between 32 and 40.
The Guardia searches saw the seizure of €2,600 euros, 1,040 Moroccan dirhams, 240 pounds sterling, 60 US dollars, luxury watches and jewellery, three gold bars, mobile phones and documentation related to the gang’s companies.
In addition, 66 bank accounts have been judicially blocked and €110,000 has so far been recovered.
The detainees have been charged with belonging to a criminal group, fraud, money laundering and document falsification.