Investigation into boiler room fraud leads to 22 arrests in Spain

Ten British nationals were among 22 people arrested in Spain as part of an investigation into an organised crime group believed to be responsible for defrauding hundreds of victims of over eight million Euros.The multi-agency investigation, led by the Spanish National Police and supported by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and City of London Police, also resulted in the seizure of four firearms, ammunition and 367,000 Euros.

 

Officers believe that members of the crime group operated a boiler room fraud in which intensive telephone campaigns were carried out to persuade over 200 members of the British public to put their savings into investment packages that did not exist.

During searches of addresses in Barcelona and other Catalan provinces, officers also recovered seven false UK passports, numerous computers, hard drives, USB sticks, mobile telephones, lists of potential clients and manuals on how to get people to part with their money.

Ian Milne, SOCA's Head of Operations in Europe, said: "Working with partners to protect members of the public is a priority for SOCA. We believe this organised crime group was running a sophisticated and complex boiler room fraud. Shutting it down has put a stop to more members of the public being duped into parting with their hard earned cash."

Det Supt Tony Crampton, from City of London Police, said: "Investment fraud is all too often a crime created abroad to target people back here in the UK, with the vulnerable members of society being most at risk. In order to get to grips with this criminality and target the fraudsters who feel they are operating outside the law, it is necessary to develop international alliances between law enforcement and counter fraud agencies.

"This successful operation in Spain provides further evidence of how these partnerships are now delivering the sort of results that should make organised crime gangs think twice before starting their criminal enterprise."

The Spanish National Police believe that the crime group was made up of various self-governing sub-groups, with each one specialising in an aspect of the defrauding process. They also believe that the head of each sub-group communicated solely with the leader to avoid being traced to other members of the organisation.

Enquiries have revealed that the alleged perpetrators used false identification documents, travelled constantly, changed addresses regularly, and used the name of a non-profit making company to open current accounts with various banks.

The 22 people have been charged with being part of an organised crime group, as well as with fraud offences. Five of the British nationals were remanded in custody and the others were released on bail.

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