A GUARDIA Civil investigation into a network of con artists ripping off people selling items online has resulted in 29 arrests in regions across Spain, including Almeria and the Balearics.
All the detainees face charges for fraud, money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.
The Guardia described how the “fake buyers” used the “well-known Nigerian fraud method”, gaining the confidence of the vendor to get them to send the item they had up for sale, and in return sending the sellers false proofs of payment, using fraudulent payment platforms.
So as not to raise suspicions the crooks also provided false IDs and always accepted the offer price.
Guardia commands in A Coruña in Galicia and Vizcaya in the Basque Country directed the operation, but the investigations into the network involved teams in 10 other provinces
There were also arrests in Barcelona, Madrid, Cadiz, Burgos, Asturias, Badajoz, Ciudad Real and Salamanca.
The investigation began in October 2018 after a victim in Sada in A Coruña reported that someone had illegally got their hands on a mobile phone they had had up for sale on the internet.
A first arrest allowed for the identification of the members at the lowest level of the criminal structure: “mules” organised into small groups or family clans and located all over the country.
Their job was to receive the items and then resell them in second-hand shops.
The cash they made had to be shared with the contact at the next level up, the money ending up in Nigeria, where the Guardia identified 18 people acting as “financial mules” for the organisation.