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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Two Members of a Spain-based Mobile Phone Fraud Network Arrested

Two persons were arrested in Jumilla, Spain for being part of a network that fraudulently purchased smartphones from service providers.

The Civil Guard of the Region of Murcia carried out a law enforcement action, called “Operation Darkweb” in Jumilla, to clarify a series of scams in the acquisition of mobile phones. The operation resulted in the arrest of two people from Valencia. Investigators suspect the two individuals to be part of a regional criminal network. The prosecution accused the duo of multiple crimes, including fraud, forgery of public documents, and “continued usurpation of civil status”.

In May, the first phase of the operation began, it was followed by the arrest of the two suspects of Guinean origin. After law enforcement authorities detained the duo, investigators found many documents that were to be used, allegedly, in the preparation of identification papers, such as passports and identity cards of foreigners. Therefore, the investigation aimed to find out the origin and the destination of the documents.

During the initial raids on the homes of the suspects, a personal computer was also seized by law enforcement authorities. After the forensic analysis, investigators discovered that the hard drive of the device stored a large number of files containing personal information of numerous people. The data included names, ID numbers, postal addresses and, in some cases, banking and financial information.

The police could verify that the personal data found on the suspects’ computers corresponded with the data of real people, who, during the last months or years, had been victims of fraud. The fraud, according to the police, was, in all cases, connected to contract with mobile phone service providers and the acquisition of high-end smartphones. Investigators also revealed that most of the crimes were committed within the area of Valencia.

The network of scammers, which is now partially dismantled, had several operational groups. In the first instance, there was a group of people in charge of obtaining personal information that would eventually be the victims’. Information, as has been known, was obtained both from websites dedicated to the selling of business data and, more specifically, darknet hacking forums and marketplaces.

At the second level, people were in charge of selling false documents or providing the necessary elements for their preparation, which could be passports and NIEs (tax identification numbers in Spain), but also company certificates and bank documents.

The third and last level are the “mules”, or people who are ordered to travel to different points in Spain to collect the high-end smartphones from the post offices, which the gang had acquired using the fake documentation.

Law enforcement authorities uncovered that the most common scam was the acquisition of high-end smartphones of a “well-known brand”, with an estimated price of approximately 1,000 euros per piece, and other high-end mobile phones. For this, they formalized contracts with fictitious documentation and later, modified the client’s’ contact information (address, email and telephone number) so the mobile service providers could not contact the victims.

Finally, they falsified the personal documentation of the customers to collect the packages sent by the telecommunication companies. The parcels, in all cases, contained high-end smartphones, which were delivered to the post offices or sent to unknown locations by courier services. Once the smartphones were obtained, they could be quickly advertised in Spain and in other countries, obtaining a considerable economic benefit.

So far, law enforcement authorities detected that the two suspects were active in many parts of Spain, including Valencia, Chiva, Quartell, Madrid, Majadahonda, Alcorcón and finally, in the municipality of Jumilla, Murcia.

Investigators reported that the two accused had moved from Valencia to Jumilla in order to collect a postal parcel, which contained a high-end smartphone. According to the police, the two suspects used false identification documents to acquire the phones.

Both of the arrested are men, of Guinean nationality, aged 26 and 35, and are residents of Valencia. According to the police, the seized items and the results of the investigations have been made available to the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 1 of Jumilla.

DEMI KESELAMATAN KITA
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