Following an investigation by the Judicial Police Brigades of the Denia Police Station, five have been arrested for extorting money from dating website users. The arrests come after complaints from four affected individuals.
All of the affected individuals had either used dating websites or had responded to dating ads online. In all cases they were contacted either through text messages or via instant messaging platforms, the message always being the same that the person was angry having lost time of one of their “company girls”. They then threatened physical harm unless they were appropriately compensated or they would share the information with family members,
The police think that the messages were sent using an automated system and to large numbers of people, in the hope that someone would respond. Once contact had been made, the perpetrators would research the targeted individual to make sure they knew as much as possible about their potential victim. That information was then used for the threats as it was the amount of money demanded.
To make the threat look authentic the perpetrators used photos of menacing looking people as well as using eastern European accents when making calls. During conversations the victims were made aware of how much was known about them giving further credibility to their threats.
The victims were convinced that they were under threat and in all cases transferred between one and six thousand Euros to the criminals, either through bank transfer, wallet or instant payment providers. The investigators believe that the criminals netter around 150,000 Euros over the last year.
Three men and two woman of Spanish and Brazilian nationality were arrested, each with their own role in the operation. Two of the five are believed to be the leaders of the gang, with others used to make threats or as mules to open and manage bank accounts.
The news that the police have arrested five people for extorting money from dating website users is a reminder to us all of the dangers that do lurk online, and that we need to be cautious in our dealings especially with those we don’t know.
If you are being threatened or have been subject to extortion attempts then you should contact the authorities on 112.
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