Three arrested for defrauding 170 people through SMS pretending to be from a bank

The Guardia Civil arrested three people in Tenerife and is investigating a fourth for defrauding 170 victims by sending fraudulent SMS. They are charged with crimes of belonging to a criminal group, continued fraud, money laundering, usurpation of civil status and illegal possession of weapons.

In the messages, the scammers posed as a bank reporting an alleged security problem that had to be resolved urgently by clicking on the link they sent.

Once they accessed, the victims entered their bank details giving the keys to the three detainees. The dismantled gang made purchases online with the stolen money and then sold those products online.

Subsequently, members of this network went in person to the establishments, where they collected the products in the so-called pick-up lockers, where without having to interact with the establishment’s employees, they could extract the products through a code.

The effects collected in the establishments were sold to third parties on web pages for the sale of second-hand items, where they lowered the price of the products with respect to the market and obtained illegal enrichment.

Part of these illicit funds were invested in cryptocurrencies, to later carry out a conversion to a conventional currency and transfer it to their bank accounts. In this way, they declared the profits as coming from investments, consummating the crime of money laundering.

Thanks to the data provided by Banco Santander and after a meticulous analysis of the information, it was possible to determine that the amount defrauded by the criminal network exceeded 200,000 euro, affecting more than 170 people throughout the national territory.

The agents have carried out two searches on the island of Tenerife, in which they have seized a series of effects related to the criminal acts investigated: 70 SIM cards, 38 high-end mobile phones -some of them still in their original packaging to be sold -, four laptops, documentation related to the fraudulent purchases, around 4,000 euro in cash and a handheld taser weapon.

During the development of the operation, the Banking Security and Fraud teams of Banco Santander have also participated actively, forming a joint investigation team between both institutions.

The proceedings are at the disposal of the Investigating Court No. 1 of those of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, with the coordination of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.