THE SPANISH Civil Guard has busted a gang that was allegedly scamming holidaymakers by offering fake accommodation, as part of an operation dubbed ‘Rent Scam’.
The authorities believe that as many as 42 people were involved in the network, which offered fake places to stay on the internet.
So far, the Civil Guard has arrested 29 people and is investigating 13 more, according to a statement.
The arrests took place across Spain, including the provinces of Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real and A Coruña.
Officers were tipped off to the gang in September after they noticed an increasing number of police reports for fraud.
Using information from the victims, the Spanish authorities carried out an exhaustive analysis of online vacation adverts, discovering that the gang was posting offers that were considerably below the going rate for such accommodation.
They would then charge their victims in advance, with the money ending up in bank accounts that were opened by another member of the gang.
The criminals would then use mules to make transfers to other accounts, thus making it more difficult for the authorities to follow the paper trail.
Most of the detainees have previous criminal records for similar scams, and the supposed leader of the gang is a man with a long criminal history for online fraud, which he was actually carrying out on computers from prison.
The Civil Guard recommends that people be aware of adverts for holiday accommodation that look too good to be true and that have very attractive photos despite low prices, and advise that people never pay the full amount for their stay in advance.
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