The Guardia Civil say clients should ask for photocopies of renters' IDs ‘to avoid being conned’
By Dave Jones A 28-YEAR-old woman has been accused of breaking into empty apartments in Torrevieja, Alicante and renting them out to unsuspecting clients.
The Guardia Civil has launched an investigation after a married couple made a complaint earlier this month.
They told officers that they had gone on holiday and returned to find that someone had broken into their flat and changed the locks.
When officers were looking into the crime they discovered that five apartments in the same building were being occupied illegally.
A Guardia Civil spokesman explained that the owners of the properties were not fulltime residents and their doors had been forced.
He stated that the alleged scammer - a Spanish resident originally from Bosnia - lived in the apartment block and would break into the flats which she knew were empty.
After stealing objects of value, she would then change the locks and advertise the apartments for rent on internet websites.
According to the spokesman, all the people who had moved into these apartments - including families with children - thought they had legal rental contracts, as the suspect had used corresponthe dence sent to the holiday homes to steal the data of the real owners.
The spokesman explained that when the suspect was detained she was carrying several letters sent to different properties in the apartment block, which she had taken from the communal mail box.
According to the force, the suspect claimed to be a go-between acting on behalf of the owners.
As well as dealing with the false contracts, she would collect the monthly rent from the unsuspecting clients.
The suspect has been charged with forging documents, swindling and burglary.
A judge has refused bail and suspect has been sent to prison on remand.
The court noted that the suspect had been arrested over a similar scam last year but had continued with the criminal activity after being released.
The Guardia Civil have issued a warning over such scams, noting that potential clients should be aware of the risks of renting properties ‘outside the normal channels’ of an estate agent or legal property representatives.
The force advised people to be wary of third parties who say they are acting for the legal owners of a property and they should ask for photocopies of their identity documents ‘to avoid being conned’.
At the same time, they advised residents who are going to spend time away from their homes to get a friend to check on their properties and collect the post so potential criminals do not know they are away and their letters are not stolen.