Coronavirus protection materials scammer cons care homes out of thousands in Spain

VICTIMS: The Guardia believes a huge number of people were taken in by the scam CREDIT: Guardia Civil

A 26-YEAR-OLD man is under arrest in Galicia in northern Spain for running an online personal protection materials scam and conning hundreds of victims out of thousands of euros.

Guardia Civil launched an investigation last month after two care homes for the elderly in Burgos reported they had put in orders for some €3,500 of materials advertised as ‘specific protection against coronavirus contagion,’ which they never received.

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The Guardia identified another 60 complaints against the website via the law enforcement body’s public suggestion inbox, its email for reporting cybercrimes and on its social media pages.

The investigative trail led to a company in Vigo and a complex virtual scheme set up by the detainee. A virtual shop created just two days before Spain’s State of Alarm came into force promised stock guarantees, safe payment and deliveries within a fortnight.

In most cases the orders did not arrive at all, and when they did there were items missing and the materials were poor quality.

Using up to seven different bank accounts and safe payment management systems he received in excess of 2,600 transactions, adding up to more than €100,000.

The Guardia estimates a huge number of people got taken in, bearing in mind that the online payment company has received some 750 complaints.

The Guardia said the fraud victims were of all kinds, but care homes and health collectives in particular. In fact there are so many there are even social media platforms for those affected.

Some of the orders from the company came from outside Spain, hence the Guardia is seeking victims in other countries vie Europol and police international cooperation channels.

Ever since the start of the Covid-19 crisis the Guardia has been operating a special cybercrime unit due to the high demand for personal protection materials and the scarcity of availability on the market, leading to what it said is a “notable increase in this kind of cyber-scam.”


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