‘Phishing’ and ‘Smishing’ gang arrested for mass internet banking scam based in Costa Blanca area of Spain

A Costa Blanca gang led by four brothers have been arrested by the Guardia Civil over an internet scam that netted cash from 163 victims.

11 people were detained in Almoradi and Torrevieja over 504 counts of fraud as well as belonging to a criminal gang.

Over €56,000 was illegally obtained by using techniques known as ‘phishing’ and ‘smishing’ to obtain personal bank details.

Cash was withdrawn from ATMs in the Valencian Community, the Murcia region, and Andalucia.

The money was laundered by converting it to cryptocurrencies or transferring it to Morocco.

The con involved sending phone text messages or emails to potential victims that appeared to have been sent by a bank.

They diverted unsuspecting users to bogus websites that were copies of official bank sites.

Personal details were hijacked and used by the gang to order new bank cards which also allowed them access to contactless mobile phone payment services.

The Guardia Civil received several complaints in June from people that had been scammed online.

They discovered the ring-leaders were four brothers of Moroccan nationality who the Guardia said ‘led a high standard of living and had no other work activities’.

They used a payment machine in an Almoradi gambling saloon to make illegal withdrawals from the hijacked accounts, with the full knowledge of the saloon owner, who got a 15% commission.

One of the gang members, a 23-year-old Swedish woman, had the specific task of providing homes for the brothers to make it harder for the Guardia to locate them.

The brothers were all jailed after a court appearance with the rest of their crew granted bail.

The Guardia seized €17,500 in cash as well as 17 mobile phones; a large quantity of SIM cards; and three cars.

They believe other victims of the con have yet to come forward to make a complaint.

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