The Spanish Civil Guard have arrested 14 people in Cantabria who were part of a criminal gang that placed fake sales ads on the internet and defrauding buyers who paid but never received their purchases.
It is believed that the gang committing more than 400 scams with false sale advertisements online for second hand items, netting over 350,000 Euros.
The criminal group took advantage of several people without resources to use them as “mules” to obtain identities and bank details.
The “mules” fronted the adverts, posing as legitimate sellers, were given a small commision for each “sale.”
The “mules” were kept in check with threats of violence and one occasion even a kidnapping.
The Civil Guards operation, named Gemule revealed that the majority of the items placed for sale were second hand cars, classic motorcycles, hunting shotguns, and musical instruments / all at seemingly temptingly low prices.
The authrorities raided five properties Santander and El Astillero, where numerous documents were seized along with details of 133 bank accounts which were used to channel the money.
The raids also uncovered the list of “mules” including their home details, telephone numbers and bank card with pin codes.
The supposed leader of the gang, a 56-year-old man, had in his home more than 26,000 euros in cash as well as a 22-caliber revolver with ammunition..
At the same address was the leader’s son, a 28-year-old man, considered the gangs “brain” who published more than 4,000 ads for second-hand items on websites across Spain.
The gang recruited a network of people with low incomes to put a multitude of telephone lines and bank accounts in their name and for which they were paid small commissions, which allowed gang to operate without leaving a trace.
The gang used the mules IDs to place ads and took out the proceeds by using the mules bank cards from cash machines.
One of these “mules” was even kidnapped by refusing to give up his pin and was beaten into giving it.
The investigation remains open and the authorities have not ruled out further arrests.
The operation, has been directed by the Court of Instruction No. 5 of Santander, under the coordination of the Prosecutor for telematic crimes, continues open, not ruling out more arrests.