A HUGE network of alleged Chinese con-artists has been dismantled in Spain thanks to a collaboration between the Chinese and Spanish police forces.
A whopping 238 Chinese citizens have been arrested for their presumed involvement in the fraud scheme. They are accused of making phone calls to China and tricking their victims into making bank transfers. The alleged fraudsters operated out of several chalets in the provinces of Alicante, Barcelona, and particularly Madrid. Altogether they are accused of fleecing their victims out of €16 million.
Spanish police sources have indicated that the ringleaders of the scam remained in China, whereas hundreds of footmen travelled to Spain temporarily and stationed themselves in different luxury chalets. They were reportedly extremely punctual and diligent with rent payments and barely left these residences, even pulling down the blinds and doing their best to give the impression that the buildings were empty.
Each of them had a desk, a phone, and a list of potential clients. They would then allegedly call upon Chinese compatriots living back home, warning their victims that they were going to be the subject of a police investigation. They allegedly called these people repeatedly in a bid to intimidate them, persisting until they eventually convinced them to transfer money into a bank account. The group allegedly conned thousands of families out of their money, and one young man apparently committed suicide after handing over money which he had been planning to use to pay for his studies.
Some of the alleged fraudsters have appeared in courts in Alicante, whereas the majority have been processed in Madrid. Due to the huge amount of people implicated in the operation, the National High Court had to call in extra judges to take statements. Dozens of lawyers have been appointed to represent the Chinese citizens, most of whom had entered into the country posing as tourists.
The break up of the organisation represents the biggest joint operation ever carried out between the Spanish and Chinese police forces. More than 600 Spanish officers worked on the case along with 60 Chinese officers.
After arresting up to 50 workers who were stationed at one of the chalets in Madrid, police sources also reported that four people had allegedly been locked in the basement for failing to comply with the demands of the leaders of the organisation.
The network has allegedly operated in the past in various other countries, including Greece, Armenia, Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya, as well as in China itself.