On 6th August 2015 Spanish National Police Agents arrested five people who allegedly obtained thousands of euros from the fraudulent renting of luxury villas in Marbella (Málaga). The arrested persons created a high-quality villa rental website that offered at very competitive prices, properties that really exist, but that their legitimate owners had no intention of renting.

Group members requested the clients to pay a deposit by bank transfer of 50% of the rent for the reservation and the remainder to be paid four weeks before arrival at the accommodation. However no one showed up at the appointed checking in time to hand over the keys of the house. The head of the group has been arrested as he left in a hurry to the airport.

Investigators estimate that the fraud could exceed half a million euros.

A fraudulent real estate portal with mansions

The research suggests that the detainees created a real estate portal with a high quality design using a company name with forged documents. Through this website they offered holiday rentals of luxury villas in Marbella at very competitive prices. To lend credibility to the fraud, photos and data of the properties offered were real, but their rightful owners were not aware that their villas had been advertised for rent until it was too late.

Those arrested transferred the money to one of their group, a former bank employee aged 79 years, who then withdrew the money from the bank account.

A fraud that could exceed half a million euros

The National Police opened an investigation on 16th July, after receiving the first nine complaints with the same modus operandi. One of the victims of this plot was cheated out of 55,000 euros for reservation of two luxury villas. The victim went to the city of Marbella and saw where the houses were, but there was no reservation for rent.

The amount defrauded from the nine complainants accredited so far, all of them foreigners, is 95,000 euros. However, according to the transfers received in the bank accounts of those arrested, the investigators estimate that the organization had earned about 500,000 euros from other victims who have not yet reported. The National police investigation remains open.

Investigators have frozen bank accounts belonging to the criminal organization and have seized a luxury vehicle with a market value of 250,000 euros.