NATIONAL POLICE have detained 84 members of a money laundering gang which was responsible for ‘cleaning up¡ more than €11.5 million which they got through the ‘Nigerian letter’ scam.
The investigation started in 2012 when the police became aware of a gang, located principally in Malaga, Valencia and Madrid, which was receiving cash made in the Nigerian letter scams and was sending the cash on to Nigeria.
Complaints had come in to the National Police lines from all over the world stating that the I.P. addresses on the e-mails were located in Malaga and Valencia, as well as other Spanish cities, and the e-mails contained fraudulent information and made fraudulent claims which were considered illegal in the countries where the complaints originated.
Officers have investigated more than 200 locutorios (cheap rate phone call centres) which are managed by the gang and which are used to launder the cash as well as send out the thousands of e-mails designed to defraud the more innocent recipients.
More than 51 searches have been made and officers have confiscated around €56,000 in cash, 50 computers, 27 smart phones as well as many fake passports and identity cards.
Police calculate that, in the time they have been operating, the gang could have made as much as €20 million from the letter scam: this is when they send letters to the general public asking them for help to get funds out of the country in exchange for a percentage – but the victims never get a percentage, just money taken out of their accounts.