A GATA DE GORGOS woman was conned out of over €80,000 by online love scammers who pretended to have a romantic relationship with her.
The Guardia Civil have arrested two people in Valencia on 12 counts of fraud after netting €175,000 from unsuspecting victims.
An investigation was launched after the woman from Gata de Gorgos told officers that she had made contact with a man via a prominent social media network last year.
After days of exchanging messages, they agreed to have more direct conversations, which led the victim to believe that they were developing a genuine romantic relationship.
The fraudster claimed to live in the United States, which ruled out having a face-to-face meeting.
The scammer established a bond with the woman and he requested financial help to recover a briefcase- supposedly full of gold- that he got through a fictitious inheritance.
The money borrowed would be used to cover fees and taxes related to the inheritance, while the scammer made it clear that the gold would be for the future of both of them as a couple.
After the first transfer, the criminal continued with the scam, getting regular payments from the victim.
The bogus relationship lasted 14 months, during which daily messages were exchanged and the woman made transfers totalling over €80,000, including selling properties and engaging with lenders to make payments.
Once the victim made the transfers, the fraudster redistributed them among several bank accounts to launder the money, eliminating any trace of its origin.
Guardia inquiries uncovered 11 other victims around Spain including in Almoradi and Cocentaina in Alicante province, and Buñol in Valencia province.
A man and a woman aged 33 and 66 were subsequently arrested, and a mobile phone seized along with the freezing of eight bank accounts.
The Guardia have issued a warning to romance seekers to be wary of online relationships that move too quickly; to verify people’s identities; refrain from sending money; and to notify family and friends about new relationships.
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