The Nigerian leader of a criminal organisation which is believed to have fraudulently gained around €118,000 through romance scams has been arrested by Spanish National Police at his home in the southern Madrid municipality of Valdemoro.
According to the police statement, released yesterday, 1st June the Nigerian national scammed at least two victims whom he contacted by sending mass emails and built relationships with those women who responded.
The investigation began when a woman in Torrejón de Ardoz reported having been defrauded over the Internet.
After making contact with the woman using aliases on social media, the gang established a romantic relationship with her, before scamming her into making bank transfers to Spanish and French accounts worth €48,000.
The Spanish authorities were able to analyse the bank movements and quickly established their modus operandi by texts and emails to a database of more than one million email addresses organised by language and if for “investments” or “romance” to be targeted in “fishing” campaigns.
Once monies had been paid the gang made international bank transfers of their gains to the UK and Nigeria, as well as ATM withdrawals in Madrid and high-end purchases of electronic devices and jewellery.
During the investigation, Spanish police were able to identify another victim who was unaware that she was being scammed, but who had transferred more than €70,000 to the now arrested man.
During the police raid, the authorities seized several mobile as well as various mass storage devices for analysis.
Enviaba masivamente correos 📧 a potenciales víctimas con las que establecía un vínculo amoroso para después estafarlas pic.twitter.com/FV9gUOZIdf
— Policía Nacional (@policia) June 1, 2022
So called “ romance scams” have been on the rise lately with major Netflix series such as the Tinder Swindler highlighting a growing problem for law enforcement.
The most common signs of a Romance Scam are:
- Romance scammers profess love quickly, without meeting you – the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time
- Romance scammers claim to need money for emergencies, hospital bills or travel.
- Online romance scammers try to lure you off the dating site – scammers convince victims to leave the dating site and use personal email or instant messaging to continue communication.
- Romance scammers plan to visit, but they always cancel because of some “emergency.”
The investigation continues.