1 Aug, 2023 @ 19:00
1 min read

Spain’s Civil Guard arrests more than 100 people on suspicion of €1m SMS bank fraud scam

Online scams, thefts, and physical assaults leap up to produce big rise in Spain's crime rate after pandemic kept criminals at home
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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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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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