ALICANTE – The Guardia Civil has arrested six members of a gang for occupying holiday rentals, threatening, and extorting the holiday homeowners.
Once they had moved into the house, the criminals announced that they would not leave the house without causing any damage until the owners paid them €14,000. At first, they had pretended to be a family interested in spending a weekend or a few days in the holiday home. To this end, they only approached holiday homeowners that have their property on the market for short-term rental.
Once the holiday homeowners paid the amount, the criminals just sat there. In the presence of the owners, the gang members then vandalised the interior; but even after the owners agreed to the extortion, the perpetrators did not leave. In the end, the scammers managed to steal €62,000 from them.
The leader of the gang was the one who contacted the owners and received the keys: she made a verbal contract with them and later when they had to leave the house, she claimed that she had rented for a long term. Subsequently, her husband turned out to be one of the main people responsible for materialising the threats and extortions.
The appropriated houses were constantly occupied by the members of the group who in turn gave them to other relatives so that there would always be people in the houses. This way they could avoid eviction.
After the investigation, the police were able to determine that it was not a one-off incident, but a conspiracy with an organised gang behind it. The arrested gang members are now charged with crimes of fraud, embezzlement, extortion, damage and belonging to a criminal group.
Home squatting is one of the biggest problems that holiday homeowners have been dealing with lately. Anyone can book accommodation via digital platforms such as Airbnb or Booking. Sometimes this leads to situations where the owners have no guarantee whatsoever about who is staying in their house and for what purpose.