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CRIME

Spanish police smash global GPS tracker scam

Spanish police said Sunday they hade broken up a crime group suspected of cheating over 8,000 people in over 70 countries of around €25 million ($27 million).

Spanish police smash global GPS tracker scam
Archive photo of someone getting handcuffed. Photo: Tar Sands Blockade/Flickr Creative Commons.

Twenty-one people were arrested in Spain over the scam which involved the sale of GPS trackers.

Another four suspected members of the group were arrested in Brazil, France and Portugal as part of the operation carried out with European Union law enforcement agency Europol, police said in a statement.

The arrested were Spanish, Portuguese and Colombian nationals.

The group allegedly sold GPS trackers to investors. The investors were awarded points depending on the amount they invested which they could exchange for objects such as cars and luxury houses.

“A large part of the money invested by the group was destined to promote the scam, carrying out several events like free trips, concerts and meetings in major hotels where they convinced those in attendance to invest their money,” police said in a statement.

“The scam has evolved since the first case was detected in Brazil in 2013, extending to Europe and Tunisia under different names,” it added.   

Police searched seven properties in Madrid and the western city of Merida as part of the operation, seizing documents related to “international pyramid scheme” as well as jewellery, mobile telephones and over €60,000 in cash, the statement said.

The documents revealed the group had over 50 bank accounts in several tax havens and may have had over 8,000 investors in over 70 nations, earning around €25 million in profit, it added.

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CRIME

Spain seizes first underwater drug smuggling drones

Spanish police said on Monday they had seized six underwater drones capable of transporting large quantities of drugs from Morocco to Spain and broken up a gang suspected of manufacturing them.

Spain seizes first underwater drug smuggling drones

Officers seized six of the so-called “drone submarines” and arrested eight people in raids carried out in Barcelona and the southern provinces of Málaga and Cádiz, a police statement said.

Police said it was the first time they had seized such devices, which are officially known as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

They believe the gang made underwater drones “capable of bearing big loads” for use by other criminal organisations.

“These devices could allow drug traffickers to transport large quantities of narcotics remotely across the Strait of Gibraltar,” the statement said.

The drones had up to 12 motors each and a range of 30 kilometres (18 miles).

That is easily enough to manage an underwater crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco which measures just 15 kilometres (nine miles).

Three of the drones were due to be delivered to a French drug ring to “transport significant amounts of cocaine”, the statement said.

The gang also built false bottoms into vehicles to allow gangs to smuggle drugs, as well as “unmanned semi-submersible vessels” that could carry up to 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of product.

Their customers included criminal gangs in Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, police said.

Spain’s physical proximity to Morocco, a major hashish producer, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, a major cocaine producing region, have made it a key entry point for drugs bound for Europe.

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