A gang who charged a €14,000 ‘leaving fee’ to Villajoyosa holiday home landlords has been arrested by the Guardia Civil.
Four members of the crew were jailed by a Villajoyosa court after being charged with fraud, misappropriation, extortion, and damage.
The fraudsters looked for short-term vacation lets in the town and pretended to be a family wanting a mini-break.
The female gang leader did the deals with the owners and got the keys.
Once they moved in, the gang refused to pay any rent and claimed they had a verbal contract for a long-term lease.
The woman’s husband then provided the ‘muscle’ by threatening to smash up furniture if the owners did not pay them thousands of euros to leave.
In one case, the man damaged some items in front of a couple to show the gang was serious, but he still refused to leave even though a payment had been agreed.
The crooks built up a portfolio of occupied homes with gang members handing them over to relatives to ensure there was somebody in them at all times.
The Guardia Civil say the extortionists pocketed €62,000 from their victims.