IT is the biggest internet ‘lottery scam’ ever busted.
But only 74 of the 162 defendants in Operation ‘Nilo’ have so far been located.
With the hearing due to start in November, the Malaga court is set to issue arrest warrants for the missing defendants, the majority of them Nigerians.
This is despite police insisting that it will be an impossible task to find the group as most are without papers and, probably, no longer living in Spain.
The only good news is that, at present, all of the defendants can squeeze into the dock, something that had initially been considered by the courts as a problem.
The case dates back to 2005 when police arrested 310 people after receiving 477 official complaints about a scam operating from Malaga.
The group, which is linked to the Nigerian mafia, is accused of sending millions of spam emails to accounts around the world, claiming the recipients had won the Spanish lottery.
In order to receive their ‘winnings,’ victims were asked to send in an administrative fee.
In total, around 800 people – living as far away as Australia, the US and China – fell victim to the scam.
They were told they had won from 525 to 96,000 euros.