THE Policia Nacional have made 57 arrests in Malaga in a nationwide raid on gangs that preyed on users of sexual services websites.

According to the police press release, the gang operated throughout the country, with its headquarters in Malaga, Valencia and Madrid.

In total, 243 crimes of extortion have been issued amongst the perpetrators, who originated from Africa and the Dominican Republic, and employed Spanish workers in their makeshift ‘call centres’.

The gang specialised in targeting the users of websites that offered escort and dating services.

They would create false adverts on these websites and once a client contacted them through direct messaging they would begin a dialogue.

A few days after the initial contact was made, the criminals would then contact the user again, accusing them of missing a meeting with the women and demanding money for a missed appointment.

According to the reports, this figure ranged from €100 to €80,000, and the threats for payment would continue until the user paid or stopped replying.

In total, the gang obtained €650,000 from unsuspecting users.

Police dismantled the gang during a three part operation in the major cities linked to their activities, the first targeting the ring leaders, whilst the second and third focused on the collaborators and ‘workers’ and finding those who acted as ‘Mules’ to collect the money.

During the mass arrests, police confiscated computer equipment, mobile phones and large amounts of cash, with analysis of the computers allowing officers to identify the victims of the extortion, all of whom were informed of the arrests.

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