Spanish and Romanian police have joined forces to take down a gang suspected of earning at least €3m ($3.1) from internet scams.
Spanish National Police arrested three suspects in the southern city of Malaga while their Romanian counterparts cuffed six, following a multi-year investigation, according to Europa Press.
They are accused of publishing false adverts for second-hand vehicles and other products. In some cases, they’d re-publish legitimate ads but change the contact details. They would allegedly require pre-payment for the non-existent goods and then disappear without a trace.
In their raids, police seized jewellery and watches along with €4500 and £2800 in cash, and more than €20,000 in cryptocurrencies. Eight computers, a server, 17 hard disks, 14 mobile phones and 70 SIM cards were also taken by investigators, the news wire said.
Over 120 bank accounts were blocked by police in Spain and Romania.
The multimillion-euro haul is linked to over 70 fraud cases across the continent, with victims reportedly located in Poland, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Greece and Spain
The investigation apparently began back in 2019 when a victim in the Majorcan town of Manacor complained that they had been conned after agreeing to purchase a vehicle online.
Further probing revealed the incident was part of a more expansive campaign run by an organized crime gang comprised mainly of Romanians from the town of Valcea – once dubbed “hackerville.”
This is by no means the first set of arrests in Spain focusing on internet fraudsters. In February 2021, Spanish National Police carried out 40 house searches, arrested 37 suspects and seized 13 luxury cars as part of Operation Secreto.
Said to have been masterminded by Greek nationals, the scheme reportedly defrauded US banks out of an estimated €12m ($14.4m)