Home News Spanish police arrest 23 in fake inheritance email scam

Spanish police arrest 23 in fake inheritance email scam

Published on 19/03/2009

Madrid — Spanish police have arrested 23 people, mainly Nigerians, who are suspected of running an email and letter scam that is thought to have defrauded over 150 people in the United States and Europe, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

The gang sent out 20,000 letters every day to potential victims, making them believe they had been left an inheritance of up to 53 million euros (69 million dollars) from an unknown family member, it said in a statement.

Those who responded received official-looking but faked documents asking them to pay administrative costs or taxes to collect their inheritance and some were even encouraged to come to Spain to speed up the process.

"Once they were in Madrid they were taken to the supposed offices of a security firm where they were shown chests or safes which apparently contained large quantities of money," the statement said.

Officials did not say how much money the victims lost but in similar schemes operated by other groups thousands of dollars are requested from those who show an interest in the letters.

Those arrested operated from Madrid and the surrounding areas.

Police searched 13 residences and seized over 20,000 letters which were ready to be mailed, 30,000 euros and 55,000 email addresses of possible victims and a large amount of fake documents as part of their operation.