Police solve Chinese puzzle

POLICE OPERATION: All of the call centres were located in villas on upmarket urbanisations.

THIRTY of the 238 Chinese nationals arrested for carrying out telephone scams were based in Vistahermosa (Alicante City). 

Chinese officers assisted Spanish police during the Madrid, Alicante and Barcelona swoop on a gang believed to have pocketed around €16 million. 

Like all the Chinese nationals arrested in the large scale operation, those arrested in Vistahermosa used a variety of pretexts to persuade victims in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan to make bank transfers in their favour, believing this would safeguard their money.  On other occasions they obtained credit card details and pin numbers.


Chinese investigators established the Spanish connection after they found that the internet calls had a Spanish internet provider (IP) address.  All of the improvised call centres were located in villas on upmarket urbanisations but despite its outward appearance of luxury, the interior of the Vistahermosa property told a different story.  ‘Employees’ slept eight to a room on mattresses on the floor, CCTV cameras kept watch on the street and neighbours knew nothing about the occupants.  

Electricity consumption was kept to a minimum, using low-energy light bulbs to avoid heavy bills that would alert authorities to the villa’s real use.

Police also investigated another property that they believed was used for the same purpose in Elche, although this was empty when they arrived. 

According to sources close to the case, the 30 Alicante detainees entered Spain on Taiwanese passports and three-month tourist visas.  All those are now in Madrid, where the National High Court is processing extradition requests from China.


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