Shared ownership property fraud in Spain

Co-sharing fraud operation discovered.

Spanish police in Malaga have arrested 8 people suspected of leading a real estate fraud network in the Costa del Sol and making profits of over 18 million euros at the expense of British and other European shared property buyers in Spain.

Police spokesmen yesterday said the criminal network was set up in 2000 and operated along the Costa del Sol. Over 300 companies and more than 1,000 individuals participated in the network which has affected more than 15,000 victims. The people arrested yesterday in Fuengirola, Mijas and Coín are suspected of being the leaders.

According to police investigations, the fraud was set up six years ago when a group of people living in the Canary Islands moved to the Costa del Sol and started to develop a network of companies selling participations in shared properties. The group was made up of nationals of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Belgium and Norway, and most of their victims were citizens in the UK and in central European countries.

The network used several different tactics to extract money from their victims. One was to get them to transfer money from their home country to pay the “expenses” related to the purchase of the multi property (legal costs, taxes…). Another was to sell a pretend holiday product to different buyers or to sell the same week at a given property to several people. Once the buyers realised they had fallen victim to some kind of fraud operation, they were referred to a bogus company of solicitors (set up by the criminal network) who got more money out of them by pretending to defend their claims and carry out false legal actions agains the original sellers. Another good reason why property buyers who don’t live in Spain should avoid using lawyers recommended by the estate agency selling them the property.

The money extracted from thousands of victims has yet to be discovered by police who believe that most of it has been transferred to accounts in other countries. The investigation continues.

Lawyers in Spain