A single complaint from a Costa Blanca bank customer over €11,648 stolen from his account has exposed a nationwide €1.1 million swindle.

The Guardia Civil in Alicante acted on what the Santa Pola resident told them and discovered 356 people across Spain were also defrauded by the same scammers.

Officers found the criminal ruse was operating out of Lerida in Catalunya and travelled there to arrest 33 people of different nationalities.

Many of them had records for similar crimes and further arrests have not been ruled out.

The group sent out a large amount of emails and text messages to potential targets claiming they came from their bank.

Clients were told their accounts had been temporarily blocked and to get them working again, they had to follow a web link attached to the message.

The Guardia Civil said all of the communications looked genuine with corporate logos and well-written text fooling clients into believing it was an official website.

Once customers accessed it, they supplied their personal details for the criminals to make use of.

After the bait was taken, the gang leaders accessed accounts and transferred large amounts to a network of Lerida-based ‘mules’.

They all got a commission for laundering the money which was then invested in cryptocurrencies or simply transferred to a foreign bank.

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