A gang that appropriated the inheritances of deceased elderly people in Alicante falls

The pandemic did not make them better, but it did make them richer.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
27 March 2023 Monday 02:46
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A gang that appropriated the inheritances of deceased elderly people in Alicante falls

The pandemic did not make them better, but it did make them richer. In the midst of the tragedy, a criminal gang found the opportunity to increase its criminal activity, carried out in Alicante, Valencia and Bizkaia, consisting of taking advantage of the death of lonely old people to appropriate their inheritance.

The Civil Guard called the investigation "Operation Mano Negra". So far, it has arrested eight people and investigated another three, accused of illegally obtaining the inheritances of 22 deceased elderly people.

They are accused of having committed crimes of criminal organization, robbery, fraud, document falsification, misappropriation, money laundering, usurpation of marital status and illegal possession of weapons.

The 22 inheritances came from people of different nationalities, eight were German, five French, four Swiss, two Spanish, and the remaining three, Belgian, British and Finnish. Most had no known heirs. It is not ruled out that the number of cases will increase.

The investigation began in May 2021, when the agents learned that someone had removed the judicial seals from a house located in Benissa, in which he carried out renovations and stole various objects, including a high-end motorcycle.

The agents did not take long to identify two members of the criminal group who worked in a funeral home located in the Marina Alta region. In addition to stealing the jewels of the deceased not claimed by the relatives, they passed information to rob the homes of the deceased and obtain their bank keys.

After making sure that no family member claimed the body of the deceased, the leaders of the organization began to act: two brothers residing in Bilbao, a 63-year-old woman with studies in Law and a 54-year-old man who was an insurance mediator.

The woman was the manager of twelve companies, including two real estate agencies and four agencies, and the man was the owner of an insurance brokerage. The real estate, located in Denia and the Basque Country, were used to rent and sell the properties of the deceased.

Through the agencies, which were in Bilbao and Cantabria, they turned the deceased into guarantors of their companies through false commercial contracts. In this way they achieved that the deceased had a patrimonial responsibility and thus, they kept their assets in a very economical way.

To evade taxes, the brothers used a construction and renovation company, an insurance processing office, a mechanical workshop in Bilbao, two hotels in the provinces of Murcia and Valencia, a restaurant in Dénia and two offshore companies in Ireland and Malta. They even took control of a cultural association in Bilbao to simulate donations and non-payments while the deceased were alive.

Among the members of the gang, there is also a former worker from a town hall in the Marina Alta region, who, through his knowledge, advised and made cadastral modifications to irregularly register the properties in the Property Registry.

Another detainee is a worker at a nursing home in the same region, who obtained the documentation and bank codes of his victims, transferring more than 112,000 euros from two nonagenarian residents of German and Swiss nationalities to the bank accounts of the criminal group.

The criminal group increased its criminal activity due to the increase in the number of elderly people who died from the latest pandemic, the difficulties families have in taking care of their bodies, and the lack of known heirs in other cases.

In addition, the criminal organization had fraudulently initiated the usucapion procedure to acquire some properties with their prolonged use within the legally stipulated period. To do this, they made the payment of taxes and basic supplies and, to compensate for these losses, they rented them as vacation rentals.

Investigators confirmed the participation of this group in the illegal appropriation of 20 properties with a value of more than three million euros, four of them in the French city of Paris.

Given the risk of flight of one of the leaders, last October seven searches were carried out in different locations in the provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Bizkaia. In these searches, seven men and one woman were arrested and three other people were investigated.

Five firearms, almost 100 pieces of jewelry, 11,000 euros in cash, various computer and mobile phone devices, eight motor vehicles, a cold cryptocurrency wallet, 20 properties and 71 bank accounts that are being analyzed have also been seized.

The operation has been carried out by agents of the Territorial Team of the Judicial Police of Calpe and the Economic Crime Team of the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of Alicante. Likewise, there has been the collaboration of the Citizen Security units of the Calpe Company and the Valencia Command, as well as personnel from the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Alicante and Bizkaia Commands.

The Investigating Court No. 2 of Denia has ordered the entry into prison without bail for the female leader of the gang and has ordered precautionary measures for the rest.