TENERIFE – The Guardia Civil has arrested three individuals in Tenerife and is investigating a fourth person for defrauding 170 victims through the dissemination of fraudulent SMS messages. The suspects are facing charges of belonging to a criminal group, continuous fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and illegal possession of weapons.
The scammers would send SMS messages posing as a legitimate bank. They would inform recipients of a supposed security issue that required immediate attention by clicking on the provided link.
Victims unwittingly gave bank details
Once accessed, the victims unwittingly disclosed their banking information, providing the three detainees with access to their account details. The dismantled gang utilised the stolen information to make online purchases and subsequently resold those products through internet platforms.
Members of the criminal organisation physically visited the establishments, where they collected the purchased items from designated pick-up lockers. Thus allowing them to retrieve the goods without interacting with the store employees, using a provided code.
The stolen goods were then sold to third parties via second-hand goods websites at a reduced price compared to the market value, enabling them to profit illicitly.
A portion of the illicit funds was invested in cryptocurrencies. This, they later converted into conventional currency and transferred to their bank accounts. This strategy allowed them to declare the gains as proceeds from legitimate investments, facilitating the money laundering crime.
Thanks to information provided by Banco Santander and meticulous analysis, it was determined that the criminal gang had defrauded over €200,000. Over 170 people across the country were by these SMS scammers.
During the investigation, police conducted two raids in Tenerife. Here they seized several items related to the fraudulent activities. These included;
- 70 SIM cards
- 38 high-end mobile phones (some still in their original packaging for resale)
- 4 laptops
- documentation related to the fraudulent purchases
- around €4,000 in cash
- a handheld taser-type weapon
The Security and Fraud teams of Banco Santander actively participated in the operation, forming a joint investigative team with the Guardia Civil.
The case files have been submitted to the Court of Investigation No. 1 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, under the coordination of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.