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“False romance” scam catches victims across Europe 

Spain’s National Police have dismantled an organisation which defrauded 2.1 million euros through a “false romance” scam.

Six victims have so far been identified in Switzerland, Australia, Belgium and Sweden. The links were made through a well-known social network when a gang member pretended to strike up a relationship but once trust was gained, they asked for money.

They also used the Nigerian card modality, which consists of sending letters indiscri-minately, explaining to potential victims that to collect an inheritance from a distant relative they must transfer a sum of money.

Twenty-six people have been arrested in Valencia, including the three ringleaders and 23 mules captured by the organisation in order to open bank accounts or to receive transfers. In addition, a bank card counterfeiting laboratory has been located and 29,000 euros intervened in cash in four raids.

The investigations began at the end of last year when the agents learned of a series of suspicious transactions thanks to the communication from the security department of a bank. This bank had observed international transfers that seemed suspicious from several countries such as the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Colombia and Finland, among others. Thanks to this information, the agents lo-cated the first victims of an organisation specialised in scams. These lived in Sweden and Belgium and had been deceived following the modality of false romance.

In March of this year, a third victim was located in Switzerland, also scammed by means of the false romance, after being caught and tricked through a social network and defrauded out of 140,000 euros. A few months later, new Australian and Swiss victims residing in their countries were detected, this time captured by the false inheritance modality. Later a new victim was located in Switzerland, deceived by a male, captured through another dating website.

Police do not rule out the existence of new victims.