Internet scam kingpin arrested in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
internet scam

MADRID – The Guardia Civil arrested Jordi O. last Wednesday. On suspicion of more than 250 scams and extortion practices, the 31-year-old Madrilene is the most notorious internet scammer in Spain. 

An air compressor for €250, a chainsaw for €160 and even a Yamaha engine for €300. Victims who have gathered in the Facebook group “Swindled by Jordi Otero or José Barro” are boiling mad. In recent weeks, new victims have poured into the group, many of them scammed and extorted by what is considered to be one of Spain’s most active internet scammers. 

On various platforms – with a preference for dating sites – he created fake profiles in order to then ‘sell’ garden furniture and other products at attractive prices. To boost payments, he gave potential buyers hefty discounts. 

Use of false identity and ‘money mules’ 

According to research sources, the suspect identified himself with buyers not only with forged IDs but also by sending third-party IDs. In other cases, he gained confidence by posing as a police officer or some other authority figure. 

The suspect laundered the victims’ money through money mules – people who receive criminal money in their bank account and transfer it to another account in exchange for a commission. The money mules – which the suspect ‘recruited’ via socials and dating apps – initially received the money from the purchase into their account and then transferred it to the suspect; often under the guise of a family member helping out another distressed family member. 

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Victims joined hands 

As the victims increased in number, they joined forces on internet forums to put an end to Jordi O’s malpractice. “He wanted to sell me a lawnmower that had already been sold on marketplace,” was one of the victims’ comments; who, like the vast majority, would never receive their purchase despite the amount of money transferred. 

Arrest after intensive search 

According to the so-called @team of the Guardia Civil – set up to tackle cybercrime – the criminal record of the detainee began in several municipalities of the province of Jaén (Andalucia). In the meantime, arrest warrants have been issued by the court for several judgments to be enforced. However, because Jordi O. took extensive security measures out of fear of reprisals from the victims, it was quite a task for the authorities to handcuff the Defendant. After an intensive search and detective work, the Guardia Civil finally succeeded last Wednesday in placing the suspect in pre-trial detention. 

The Guardia Civil alone estimates the “recently” illegally obtained money from Jordi O. at more than €100,000. In addition to the scams, he is accused of extorting his victims. 

The Guardia Civil warns against internet scams 

The @team of the Guardia Civil emphasises that it is important as a consumer to be extra wary, particularly with ‘bargains’. Especially when the price is too good to be true or when the seller puts pressure to complete the financial transaction as quickly as possible. The authority also recommends checking the identity of the seller through video calls, checking personal details and checking the reputation of the seller on existing platforms.

Also read: Two arrests made over “romance” scam

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