Large-scale scam targeting foreign tourists unveiled in Tenerife

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ADEJE – The National Police in Tenerife have dismantled a criminal organisation that allegedly defrauded a group of at least 1,800 elderly foreign tourists of €4 million.

In a statement on Wednesday, the police announced the completion of the first phase of the investigation. During the operation, 33 alleged members of the criminal network were arrested. Additionally, the police have identified at least 1,800 victims. With the assistance of the customs supervision department, the dismantling of the criminal organisation was achieved. The gang was based in the southern part of the island.

Primarily targeting ederly tourists

The extensive organisation systematically targeted elderly foreign tourists, particularly those staying in the southern part of the island, mainly in the municipalities of Adeje and Arona. So far, investigators have identified 1,805 victims from countries such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Estonia, Ireland, Czech Republic, Latvia, and Hungary. The estimated economic damage is over €4 million.

Scamming through electronic product stores

The investigation dates back to 2022 when agents became aware of the possible existence of a criminal organisation systematically operating in small stores selling electronic products. Members of the organisation had predefined roles. They selected victims and offered them technological devices at a low price. If the tourist agreed, they were taken to another member’s store within the organisation. There, information about the victim was gathered, including their place of stay and the date of their return to their home country.

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Fraud commenced after tourist left the country

Under the pretext that the equipment needed further setup, the organisation held onto the purchased items. They then scheduled an appointment with the victims to deliver the goods before their departure. Once they were certain that the tourist had left the country, the organisation began charging fraudulent expenses to their credit cards within a network of stores in southern Tenerife.

Seizure of money and luxury items

During the operation, €1 million in cash was seized. Additionally, over €1 million was frozen, distributed across more than 300 bank accounts. Furthermore, the police seized 42 properties, numerous jewels, and 17 luxury cars. The main suspects are five men who have been placed in provisional custody after appearing in court.

New arrests and victims not excluded

The police state that the investigation is ongoing, and new arrests or victims are not ruled out. In cooperation with Europol, contact has been established with security services in the victims’ countries. Through these channels, affected tourists are being kept informed of further developments in the case.

Also read: The escalating rental crisis in Spain: A breeding ground for scammers

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