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Thieving maids mop up in Madrid cleaning scam

Spanish police have disbanded a criminal gang that "employed" undercover cleaning ladies to burgle the luxury homes they worked in.

Thieving maids mop up in Madrid cleaning scam
Taken to the cleaners: female thieves posed as cleaning ladies to wrangle their way into luxury homes. Photo: Corlia du Toit

National Police have so far detained five people in connection with five burglaries which have taken place in Madrid over the last three months.

Some of the gang’s female members posed as cleaning ladies and advertised their services online and on hand-out leaflets for very low prices, the police said in a statement.

The women used fake names and had a script prepared to get signed up more easily by recruiting agencies.

As soon as they’d been hired and gained the trust of their employers, they set about purloining any valuable objects from the luxury homes, even calling on the other gang members to give a hand if they stumbled upon a safe.

Madrid police have carried out two searches at the suspects’ addresses, where they found perfume bottles, jewellery and watches as well as job applications.

The gang is thought to have committed another string of robberies in Madrid in 2012 under different names.

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HEALTH

Spain’s ‘2,000-tumour man’ sentenced for scamming donors

A Spaniard known as "the man with 2,000 tumours" who lied about having terminal cancer was handed a two-year jail term Monday for scamming donations from thousands, including celebrities.

Spain's '2,000-tumour man' sentenced for scamming donors
De Cedecejj - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99402644

Paco Sanz, 50, appeared regularly on television and social media between 2010 and 2017, claiming to have nearly 2,000 tumours as a result of Cowden syndrome.

Saying he had only months to live, he appealed for donations via his web page, through text messages and even a charity gala.   

Although he did suffer from the syndrome, all his tumours were benign and posed no threat to his life.

Prosecutors say the former security guard collected just under €265,000 ($319,000) before being arrested in March 2017 in the eastern Valencia region.   

Among those who sent him money were popular television presenter Jorge Javier Vazquez and Spanish footballer Alvaro Negredo.    

Prosecutors accused Sanz of “taking advantage of his illness” to “obtain illegal funding”.

They said he presented the disease as being “much more serious than it really was” and of falsely claiming he could only be saved if he got experimental treatment in the United States.   

In reality, he travelled to the US to take part in a free clinical trial and “all his costs were covered” by the firm running it, prosecutors added.    

In video obtained by Spanish media at the time of his arrest, Sanz could be seen joking with his girlfriend and family members about the lies he was telling.

As his trial opened in Madrid on Monday, Sanz pleaded guilty to fraud, receiving a two-year jail sentence, while his girlfriend was sentenced to a year and nine months for being his accomplice.

But they are not likely to serve time behind bars, as sentences below two years are usually suspended in Spain for first-time offenders convicted of non-violent crimes.

The trial will continue so the court can determine how much money the pair owe in damages.

READ ALSO: Fraudster parents of sick girl jailed for charity scam

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