THE Guardia Civil has broken up a Madrid gang who said they’d cut off electricity to 26 Alicante Province hotels and restaurants after falsely claiming that bills had not been paid.

Ten people have been arrested including gang members who masqueraded as power company call centre workers.

It’s believed the fraudsters pocketed over €100,000 from the scam.

The Guardia in Alicante launched Operation Fraudolumo in February after getting a stream of complaints from hospitality business owners in the area.

The investigation widened to include scam victims in Granada, Jaen, Madrid and Murcia.

The scam a gang member phoning an establishment at a busy time to demand that unless the last two electricity bills were paid immediately, power to the premises would immediately be cut-off.

Bills were paid ‘over the phone’ by business owners worried about leaving customers in the lurch, even though their payments were up to date.

The gang bought a large supply of SIM cards to use in the scam and went around betting shops to hire mules to help them launder money into over 50 bank accounts.

The Guardia rounded up the gang in the Madrid area towns of Ciempozuelos and San Martin de la Vega.

They were brought before a court in Villajoyosa in Alicante Province with one of the ring-leaders jailed.

The Guardia Civil has reminded everybody that electricity companies do not make payment demands via a telephone.

In case of any doubts and before paying anybody, they suggest people should contact their utility provider on the phone number printed on an official payment invoice.

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