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Gang netted millions by pretending to be Vatican City bank 

PAGE 20 Gang scammed millions  by pretending to be Vatican City bank TWO

Police on the Costa del Sol have smashed a criminal organisation which scammed businesses and individuals out of millions by pretending to be the Pope´s official bank!

The network set up an office in the holiday resort of Fuengirola and furnished it so luxuriously with religious artefacts and pictures that it looked totally authentic. There were even framed photos of the Pope and ornate crosses on the desks and walls.

Police believe the false bank conned victims throughout the world and they are trying to identify them, as well as to quantify exactly how much money has been defrauded.

Four people have so far been arrested, three of Spanish nationality and one Colombian, who face prison for fraud, trespass, money laundering and conspiracy.

Police have also seized a yacht in the upmarket Fuengirola marina, several high-end cars, €64,000 in a current account of the main suspect, numerous luxury brands watches, computer equipment, silver ingots, POS terminals , a blank firearm and €5,000 cash.

“These individuals used luxury vehicles labelled with the Vatican shield and some offices in Fuengirola, through which they maintained commercial activity with a multitude of companies from all over the world in order to sign business relationship agreements and advice,” said a spokesman for the Spanish police.

The investigation began following a tip-off from the police in the Vatican that someone was pretending to be the Pope’s bank and falsely making huge amounts of money. The Vatican City bank has no offices outside the tiny sovereign state located within Rome.

Amongst those arrested was the ringleader, a 30-year-old Spaniard who passed himself off as a member of the Vatican Diplomatic Corps. He was also found to have forged do-cuments that accredited him as Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba.

“The investigations are still open as we are looking at all the documents of this illegal activity and the victims of the scam which also used a false Vatican City bank website,” say the police.