VALENCIA – The Guardia Civil has apprehended nine individuals in the province of Valencia and is currently investigating five more for a series of extortion schemes conducted via mobile messaging targeting ten residents in the province of Huesca.
The victims suffered substantial economic losses, ranging from €500 to €8,000, resulting in a cumulative loss of €30,000.
The Guardia Civil launched Operation “Planval” following multiple complaints filed across various towns in Huesca. The victims were subjected to threats, not only on their lives but also on the lives of their family members. The extortionists demanded immediate payments, and sent videos featuring an armed man, designed to intimidate their victims.
The modus operandi of these cyber extortionists involved initial contact through messaging apps or phone calls. Using techniques commonly known as social engineering, the criminals accessed personal and contact details via online forms. Moreover, this data included phone numbers, addresses, family details, and workplace information. All of which were used to intensify the coercion tactics.
To heighten the victims’ anxiety, the perpetrators threatened to expose intimate content allegedly obtained through access to their electronic devices. Consequently, the victims succumbed to the pressure, transferring sums from €500 to €8,000 to prevent the dissemination of compromising material.
Fake identities used for extortion
Guardia Civil investigators traced the culprits through an intricate web of false identities and manipulated phone cards. After almost two years of rigorous investigation, the police in from Huesca discovered that the extortionists employed counterfeit identities and had also usurped the identities of individuals who had previously fallen victim to similar schemes.
The criminals maintained multiple bank accounts accessible online, allowing them to swiftly withdraw the extorted funds from cash machines in Valencia city immediately after the transactions were completed.
The Guardia Civil successfully managed to locate and detaine nine individuals while initiating investigations into five others residing in Alzira, Torrent, Paiporta, and Valencia. Notably, one of the detained individuals was already subject to an outstanding arrest warrant for similar offenses.
The arrested and investigated individuals have been presented before the courts in Barbastro, Huesca, Jaca, and Monzón.
Also read: Sextortion scam