Unscrupulous thirty-year-olds to live among luxuries and false glamorof Hindu family origin, born in Tenerife and without any empathy for elderly people who seek rest on the Island. In what they believe to be the tourist jungle, anything goes to be richer and more powerful than the neighbor, the one from the place next door or that other members of the same community. Faced with that reality, the Provincial Brigade of Judicial Police of the National Police in Santa Cruz de Tenerife dismantled a criminal organization for massive fraud of thousands of elderly foreign tourists in the south of the Island after a complex investigation.
The Delhi operation consisted of a macro-device in which more than 100 agents from various units of said security force and the Deputy Directorate of Customs Surveillance intervened. The intervention was carried out last Monday, June 5, in the municipalities of Arona and Adeje. There were 21 detainees, including the main leaders of the gang; Six addresses were registered, a tax consultancy, a commercial premises not open to the public and 11 bazaars, which were sealed by the judicial authority. Five of the houses are in the Fañabé area (Adeje) and the sixth in the Las Viñas complex (Las Américas). The place not open to the public was in Parque Europe, in front of the Villa Cortés hotel.
The judge decreed provisional detention for the five main members of the criminal group. The agents intervened 1,300,000 euros in cash, high-value jewelry and eleven high-end vehicles, such as Mercedes and Porsche. In addition, they blocked 42 real estate properties and more than 300 bank accounts. And they seized numerous electronic devices (TPV), computer equipment and various paper documentation.
Intervened 11 high-end vehicles, including various Mercedes and Porsche
The Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) of Santa Cruz de Tenerife received several complaints for scams that had the same characteristics. The victims were foreign tourists over the age of 70, who said they had been scammed, after detecting fraudulent charges made in their accounts in bazaars in the south of Tenerife that were run by citizens from India. And they began to investigate, with the collaboration of the Combined Customs Surveillance Unit of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and other units of the Judicial Police, such as the Organized Crime Group (Udyco). And of their advances they notified the National Central Unit of Europol.
The professionals of the Customs Surveillance Service confirmed that the leaders of the organization had a great wealth and were owners of several companies, in the name of which there were numerous real estate properties.
The investigation began in November of last year. Older tourists were recruited on public roads under the pretext of selling them some electronic device. The group was perfectly structured and there were several levels of participation. In the first were the ringleaders, who were dedicated to introducing illegally obtained money into the legal channel. They were also in charge of completing fraudulent card charges and controlling lower-level personnel.
Then there were the so-called first-level consorts: analyzers and sellers who made the “second sales”, that is, the illegal charges on the cards through dataphones that moved through various businesses under their control. And in third place were the second-level consorts or helicopters, as they were known to the gang, who recruited the right tourists to achieve their goal and made their “first sales” to them. They also followed up those affected to the airport to make sure they returned to their countries of origin and thus minimized the risk that they would detect the scam in Spain and report it. In this last group there was a retired national police officer who was arrested, as he was in charge of acting as a driver and following up to the Tenerife South terminal. This former agent, known as P., worked for many years at the South Tenerife Police Station.
One of the detainees is a retired national police officer who served as a driver and assistant to the criminal group.
Outside several stores in Las Américas, the leaders placed several victim recruiters, who offered electronic products at a very good price. If they showed interest, they were taken to the shops, where they were offered tea or coffee to win their trust. At that time they took information from them, such as the hotel where they were staying and the most important fact: what day they returned to their country.
Based on the profile of those affected, the ringleaders sent a “first-level consort” to that business, who offered older people to install various applications on the devices they just bought, supposedly to see sports in all countries of the world or have free wifi anywhere. And the electronic product remained in the hands of the sellers. The objective of this strategy was to meet with the injured party the same day they left Tenerife to then deliver the effect they had acquired.
From that moment on, improper charges were made on the cards; that is, the key process of the scam. And, with the excuse of justifying the sales before Customs, they made them sign some papers to supposedly try to validate the fraud in the face of a possible claim from the card providers to the banks. When those affected realized the deception, they were already in their country and it was more difficult for them to report to the Spanish police.
The 21 detainees are accused of belonging to a criminal organization, money laundering and fraud. In any case, agents plan to make more arrests. After the group was dismantled by the UDEF, in collaboration with Customs Surveillance, the time has come to analyze how money laundering has been carried out, through the movements of the more than 300 blocked bank accounts and the study of the information existing in mobile phones, computer devices and the paper documentation seized.
The search process for new victims to report
The National Police is taking steps to try to locate new victims of the plot, with the aim of offering them the possibility of reporting and better understanding the scope of the massive fraud against the elderly. To this end, information channels are established through the International Cooperation Division and the Ministry of the Interior of India. The investigation of the Delhi operation has been carried out under the supervision of the Arona Investigating Court number 2, whose head is Nayra C. Pérez, as well as the inspection of the prosecutor Sandra María Fagil. According to the sources consulted, part of the Hindu community in Tenerife has collaborated with the investigators, since they consider that the behavior of the now accused is very negative for commercial and tourist activity, in general, in the south of Tenerife.
The amounts fraudulently collected from victims vary widely. A total of 40,000 euros was taken from one of those affected from his bank account. The complaints of the injured parties reached several courts in the Arona party. So far, the judicial body dealing with the matter has received numerous letters rogatory from various countries, which until now had not been able to be attended to, since the investigation was under summary secrecy. From now on, such requests can be met. In addition to being of an advanced age, another of the requirements that the scammers sought is that the victims speak English, which is the language that the defendants speak. Those involved displayed a high lifestyle and great ostentation on their social networks. To avoid leaving a trace, another tactic of the gang was to change venues very frequently. In addition, the victim was captured in a store, the scam was committed in another and a third establishment appeared on the invoice. Some of the workers implicated in the case were brought from India and later returned to that country.