2 Apr, 2023 @ 18:00
1 min read

Spain’s Civil Guard busts gang scamming holidaymakers with adverts that were too good to be true

Vending Machine Thief Armed With Drill Caught In Special Police Operation In Spain's Valencia
Guardia Civil image

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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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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