Thursday, 26 March 2009

Spanish police have arrested more than 50 people, most of them Britons, suspected of involvement in a network that falsified identity documents

22:26 |

Spanish police have arrested more than 50 people, most of them Britons, suspected of involvement in a network that falsified identity documents for clients around the world.They have also identified around 100 British citizens living in Spain whom they suspect of using the fake documents to obtain bank credit, mostly mortgages of between 200,000 and 1.5 million euros.The gang's operations may have defrauded some 25 financial institutions in Spain of around 60 million euros (80 million dollars), police said in a statement.Spanish authorities have also provided information to the international police agency Europol on more than 1,000 people in 26 countries in the five continents suspected of obtaining fake documents from the gang.Police in the eastern Mediterranean resort city of Alicante opened an investigation in early 2007 after spotting websites that offered fake driving licences, residence permits, birth certificates, academic qualifications and other official documents, the statement said.
In May 2007 they arrested two men and a woman, all Britons, in the Alicante region and seized equipment for producing fake documents, guns and ammunition in raids on two properties.Since mid-2008, 50 people, most of them British, have been arrested in various regions of Spain, and the operation is continuing."It was a perfectly structured organisation, capable of successfully producing all types of fake documents, including a vast range of clients and able to set up a full network of collaborators, which meant a high volume of fake documents were generated - more than 1,000 documents in three months," the statement said.The websites were administered in the United States but had virtual offices in the British colony of Gibraltar, off Spain's southern tip.Two of the Britons arrested, identified only by their initials AK and DM, were located last November through appeals from the British charity Crimestoppers and Britain's Serious and Organised Crime Agency.The investigation also led to the identification of a British man who was wanted for a murder in the southern city of Malaga, and who police believe may have fled to Britain using fake documents supplied by the gang.investigation has also led to the identification of another British resident, wanted in connection with a homicide carried out some years ago in Málaga. Spanish police say this man has now returned to the U.K. using a fake identity created by the group now detained.The Guardia Civil has described the group as perfectly organised, with the ability of obtaining all types of fake documents, and with a wide network of clients and collaborators.
They are thought to have generated more than 1,000 false documents over a three month period.

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