A joint operation between Fraud Squad police on Majorca and in Germany has resulted in the arrest of four members of a Palma-based gang. The criminals have reportedly cheated thousands of people in Austria, Belgium and Germany out of more than 5.2 million euros.
Balearic Police Chief Antonio Cerda said yesterday that four people considered to be the ringleaders were arrested on Majorca last Tuesday: 54-year-old Andreas B., an Austrian; 49-year-old Michael H and 55-year-old Klaus Z., both Germans; and 38-year-old Nicole Z.
The so-called Operation Konglomerado has been co-ordinated through police operations in Bratislava, Vienna, Majorca and a number of German cities.
The fraud, said Cerda, was committed by the gang sending letters, by normal post or by internet, to members of the public saying that he or she had won a prize. In order to claim it, it was necessary to call a number that had a special tariff and to pay in a small amount of money. Bills for the calls were between 25 and 40 euros, he confirmed.
By examining the computers which were seized in a police raid on Majorca, it could be seen that from their base in Palma, the gang had contacted between 30'000 and 35'000 people who could have become victims of the fraud.
Investigators say the criminals could have contacted as many potential victims from another operating point in Bratislava.
Investigations apparently began in 2007 when a number of people were arrested in Germany for the same type of fraud. Several of those who were charged, however, avoided prosecution and transferred their headquarters to Majorca where they have been living in luxury properties.
The most recent arrests, three in Palma and one in Llucmajor followed six months of enquiries. Cerda described the operation as laborious because of the high volume of documentation which had to be examined.