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MORE than 100 people have been arrested by the Spanish Civil Guard on suspicion of defrauding as much as €1 million by using an SMS banking scam. A total of 350 victims have been identified, with as many as a thousand police reports filed in the region of Cantabria alone. 

The swoop by the authorities was dubbed Operation Paketokas, and has so far yielded around €383,000 of the stolen money. 

The operation has not only covered Spain but also other European countries such as Belgium, France and Italy, among others where the gang held bank accounts stuffed with the ill-gotten gains. 

The scam used a variety of methods, including fake text messages from banks that contained links to websites, as well as phone calls from operators impersonating bank employees. 

Using these methods, the criminals could not only steal the login and password information from their victims but also then persuade them to hand over any genuine codes sent from their banks in order to authorise transfers or other operations. 

The gang would also operate at times when the genuine banks were not open or available to call in order to avoid their victims from calling to check if the requests were genuine. 

At the weekend it emerged that three people had been arrested in Spain’s Tenerife on suspicion of running a similar SMS scam that netted them as much as €200,000.

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