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A gang that appropriated the assets of elderly people who died without known heirs fell


The group, which looted the properties of the deceased and put them up for rent, increased its activity during the pandemic

The Civil Guard has dismantled a criminal gang that appropriated the properties of the elderly, mainly foreigners, who died in Spain and who, for the most part, had no known heirs.

The criminal organization took advantage of the increase in deaths that occurred during the covid-19 pandemic to register properties that did not belong to them in their name.

According to the investigation, they seized all kinds of valuables, such as apartments, and then used them for their businesses, renting them out, for example, to launder money or evade taxes.

So far, 22 inheritance appropriations have been identified, but the investigation is still open.

Last October eight of its members were arrested, including two Basque businessmen, two workers from an Alicante funeral home, another from a nursing home and a former official from a town hall in the same province with access to the Mercantile Registry.

Despite this, the investigators have verified that the gang continued to rent goods on March 15 that had already been recovered.

The operation, baptized by the Civil Guard as Mano Negra, started in May 2021 in Benissa (Alicante, 11,871 inhabitants), a tourist town in the Marina Alta region, in the north of the province, where the agents had sealed off a house after the death of its owner, until an heir can be found.

However, shortly after they were alerted that the police seal had been removed and that several valuables had been stolen from inside, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

They also learned that the property had been renovated and was being offered on a vacation rental platform.

Various assets seized from the eight detainees for appropriating 22 inheritances of deceased in Euskadi and Valencia. Civil Guard (EFE)

The investigation did not take long to identify two workers from a funeral home in a town in the same region, who "stealed jewelry from the deceased not claimed by relatives, passed information to rob their homes and obtained their bank codes," says the Civil Guard. .

These arrests led the investigators responsible for the case, from the Calp Judicial Police, to the considered leaders of the group, two brothers from Bilbao ―a 63-year-old woman with knowledge of Law and a 54-year-old man who worked as an insurance mediator. ―.

In addition to the network of companies that had their name, 12 in the case of the woman, including two real estate agencies and four agencies, and an insurance brokerage in the case of her brother, the gang leaders used a construction company, another for insurance, a mechanical workshop in Bilbao, two hotels in the provinces of Murcia and Valencia, a restaurant in Dénia (Alicante) and two companies in Ireland and Malta to squeeze, through tax evasion, as much money as possible from the houses that removed the deceased without heirs.

"They even took over a Bilbao cultural association" in which they registered their victims to simulate donations and non-payment of fees.

The business was working, but “during the pandemic, with the increase in deaths and the bureaucracy paralyzed due to the confinement”, it became a gold mine.

Once they found an elderly deceased and, at first sight, without heirs who could claim their possessions, the plot moved all its threads.

Sometimes, they falsified commercial contracts to turn the deceased into guarantors of their companies to keep their assets for patrimonial responsibility.

In other cases, the former official of the Mercantile Registry advised them and modified the cadastre to register the properties in their name.

And there were houses in which they used the usucapion process ―also called acquisitive prescription―.

It consists of the prolonged use of the properties and the payment of their taxes and supplies so that, after a period established by law, they can be obtained.

According to the investigations, they used their own real estate, located in Dénia and in the Basque Country to rent and sell the properties.

They didn't leave a single fringe.

The employee of a nursing home detained in this operation "obtained documentation and bank codes from the victims," ​​says the armed institute, "and managed to transfer more than 112,000 euros from two nonagenarians residing in Spain of German and Swiss nationalities to the bank accounts of the criminal group”.

The investigators came to prove that the gang had appropriated at least 20 properties valued together at more than three million euros.

Four of these homes are in Paris.

They have also identified 22 deceased, of Spanish (2), French (5), Swiss (4), German (8) and Belgian, British and Finnish (1) nationalities who became victims of the criminal network.

Faced with the imminent risk of flight of one of the organization's leaders, the Civil Guard decided to act in October with seven searches carried out in the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Bizkaia, which resulted in eight arrests, including those of the two leaders.

In addition, within the framework of the same operation, three more people were investigated.

All of them are charged with the crimes of criminal organization, robbery, fraud, document falsification, misappropriation, money laundering, usurpation of marital status and illegal possession of weapons.

The investigating court 2 of Dénia decreed the entry into prison without bail for the Basque businesswoman and precautionary measures for the rest.

However, the gang's activity did not stop, they point out to EL PAÍS, sources of the investigation.

On January 15, one of these people was arrested again for new facts related to the same plot.

And on March 15, the agents took a statement from one of the defendants again because he continued to rent some of the houses that had already been recovered.

The researchers do not rule out that the number of victims may increase.

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-27

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