A macro operation The joint efforts of the National Police, the Tax Agency and Europol have made it possible to dismantle an international gang of scammers who used the ‘Nigerian letters’ method.
The operation has been settled with the arrest of 80 people (61 in Spain, 16 in Portugal and 3 in the United Kingdom) and have carried out 53 records simultaneous (24 in Spain -specifically to Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Santander-, 26 in Portugal and 3 in the United Kingdom). In parallel, more than 500,000 dollars, 30,000 euros, 200 mobile phones, computers and vehicles have been seized.
Investigators calculate that this criminal organization had managed to defraud more than a thousand people from all the worldmainly to seniors and retirees residing in the United States.
The nucleus director of the organization was located in the Madrid towns of Parla and Fuenlabradaand had ramifications throughout Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico and the USA.
The ‘Nigerian letters’ method
The investigation began at the end of 2019 when agents detected packages from the United States with high amounts of money hidden inside magazines. Shortly after, and as a result of the international collaboration of tax and police authorities of the affected countries, it was discovered that it was a criminal organization dedicated to fraud through the modality known as ‘nigerian letters‘.
The ‘modus operandi’ consisted of entrusting to a copy shop in Fuenlabrada the mass printing of letters simulating lottery prizes or inheritances of unclaimed relatives. They were printed in two ways: with the names and surnames of the victims, or in a generalized way and then they acquired individualized labels with the personal data and address to place them in the envelopes.
Later, they moved to Portugal in huge Baggage -in particular tourism or line bus- to send them in a way massive from the neighboring country, since the cost of the service was lower than that of Spanish companies. The researchers calculated that the shipping cost could reach 500,000 euros.
The victimsalways elderly people, contacted the telephone that appeared in the letters and answered a small questionnaire to know their purchasing power and thus be able to be deceived.
Victims had to pay an initial amount of between 1,000 and 30,000 euros in concept of fees and bureaucratic taxes to be able to access prizes or fraudulent inheritances. The organization had a complex system of concealment of the benefit, which consisted of receiving the money through several victims, with a member of the organization being the final recipient of the amount in cash.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.