THE CIVIL GUARD has made three arrests in Tenerife after detecting an SMS phishing scam that conned as many as 170 people across Spain. A fourth person is also being investigated. 

The thieves are alleged to have made off with as much as €200,000 after using text messages to alert banking clients to a supposed security problem with their accounts. 

The suspects are facing charges of belonging to a criminal organisation, fraud, money laundering and possession of illegal weapons, among others. 

The messages sent by the gang encouraged bank clients to urgently click on a link due to a problem with their accounts. 

Once the victims complied, they were asked to enter their logins and passwords, information that went directly to the criminals. 

The gang then allegedly used the stolen funds to buy items on the internet and then resell them. 

The money they accrued was then reinvested into cryptocurrencies before converting those digital currencies into hard cash, declaring the profits as investments. This, according to a statement from the Civil Guard, constitutes the offence of money laundering. 

Two raids on the Canary Island of Tenerife turned up items used by the gang, including 70 SIM cards, 38 high-end cellphones, four laptops, documents related to the fraudulent purchases, some €4,000 in cash and a handheld taser.

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