The gang used false personal data to obtain IT applications from mobile operators, thus obtaining packs and free credit for calls. Once the free calls had been used up, they topped up again using bank cards which had been obtained illegally. They then used this phone credit to make huge amounts of calls to high-rate ‘800’ numbers which had previously been set up by their own bona-fide companies.
All told, seven people were arrested and homes searched in Madrid and Barcelona. The police had begun an investigation after receiving a complaint from a mobile-phone operator, which had detected fraudulent top-up payments via their web page. Initial investigations turned up the existence of the gang, who members are mainly from Pakistan, but living in Madrid and Barcelona.
What became the gang’s undoing was that they always used the same modus operandi: they would start by entering bona-fide companies in the Mercantile Register with professions that they never ended up doing; i.e., if it was a real-estate company, they would never transact a real-estate purchase or sale. These companies would obtain high-tarif telephone numbers (800’s). They would use false data to obtain top-up cards and then phone themselves. As these 800 numbers give a kick back to the number owner, they made money from it.
As well as seven people arrested, the police confiscated 1,552 top-up cards and 52 mobile telephones, as well as false ID’s and bank cards.