The Guardia Civil say clients should ask for pho­to­copies of renters' IDs ‘to avoid be­ing conned’

Costa Almería News - - Regional And National News -

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.

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