Spanish police hold 'mini-Madoff' fraudster
Spanish police said Friday they have arrested a man known as the country's "mini-Madoff" and suspected of defrauding more than 100,000 people in 110 countries.
The man, identified only by his initials G.C.S. is "the highest-level person in a network that defrauded people of more than $300 million" (212 million euros), police said in a statement.
It said the "mini-Madoff" was arrested in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia.
Bernard Madoff, 72, who touted himself as one of New York's most successful money managers, was arrested in late 2008 and sentenced in June 2009 to 150 years in prison in what was described as one of the biggest pyramid schemes ever.
The man detained by Spanish police operated a similar scheme, offering his victims potential profits of 10 to 20 percent per month. But the money was used instead to buy property.
"What was supposed to be a group dedicated to investment in the exchange market was a fraudulent pyramid-type scheme," the statement said.
Police believe more than 100,000 people in 110 countries were victims.
The man was one of three people arrested in the operation, while seven others are under investigation.
Authorities also froze accounts held by the organisation in 12 different banks as well as 20 buildings valued at a total of 14 million euros, police said.
© 2011 AFP