More than 60 arrested for the “child in need” scam
National Police agents have dismantled an international criminal organization dedicated to defrauding the child ‘in trouble’. 95 complaints have been resolved with a financial loss of 410,000 euros for the victims and 65 people established in Malaga, Catalonia and Madrid have been arrested, with two leaders of the plot.
Inquiries and Arrests
The beginning of the investigations goes back to February 2022, when a considerable increase in complaints perpetrated through the scam known as the ‘child in difficulties’ was detected in Seville. Cybercriminals, through instant messaging applications, posed as victims’ children and asked them for money via bank transfers.
Origin of Scams in Malaga
The investigations identified Málaga as one of the centers of origin of the scams, where a cell was located made up of individuals acting under the orders of higher levels of the criminal organization.
The first arrest took place in Torremolinos (Málaga) in August 2023, where a Dutch citizen considered to be the head of the organization was arrested. Later, in November of the same year, another of the leaders of the plot, also Dutch, was arrested in Fuengirola (Málaga), together with his closest collaborators.
Mode of operation
The network acquired databases of potential victims for bulk SMS sending. Subsequently, the deceived people contacted designated people to follow the directions to fall into the trap. The defrauded money was collected through bank accounts in the names of third parties.
Dismantling and Consequences
The operation culminated in the arrest of 65 people, the identification of 221 collaborators and the resolution of 95 complaints with an economic loss of 410,000 euros. Investigations remain open to deal with new allegations related to these events.
The National Police offers advice to avoid becoming a victim of this type of scam, such as trying to contact the family member by means other than Whatsapp and being suspicious of the language or expressions of the person writing to us.