Mafia ‘god­fa­ther’ caught in UK su­per­mar­ket scam

Gang tar­geted a farm pro­duce whole­saler in the Vega Baja

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - Awatkins@cb­

By Alex Watkins MEM­BERS of a gang led by an Ital­ian mafia boss have been ar­rested for al­legedly con­ning €2.5 mil­lion out of fruit and vegetable whole­salers by pre­tend­ing to rep­re­sent a well-known UK su­per­mar­ket chain, re­ported the Guardia Civil.

A force spokesman ex­plained that the man­ager of one of these com­pa­nies, based in Cox in the Vega Baja, re­ported in De­cem­ber that he had been swin­dled out of 1.6 mil­lion ki­los of farm pro­duce worth al­most €2 mil­lion.

The Guardia Civil ex­am­ined the CMR (In­ter­na­tional Car­riage of Goods by Road) way­bill for any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, which showed the goods had not ac­tu­ally been trans­ported to the UK but other places around Europe, in­clud­ing Verona (Italy), Per­pig­nan (France) and Afu­mati (Ro­ma­nia), where they had been sold on the black mar­ket at very low prices.

Af­ter li­ais­ing with In­ter­pol and Ro­ma­nian po­lice, of­fi­cers con­firmed who was be­hind the trans­port com­pany. Of­fi­cers searched the home

the per­son who had of claimed to rep­re­sent the UK su­per­mar­ket and dis­cov­ered a large num­ber of tele­phone num­bers, IMEI’s (mo­bile de­vice iden­tity codes) and doc­u­ments.

The gang had been con­tact­ing com­pa­nies un­der this pre­text of­fer­ing to put them in con­tact with the UK su­per­mar­ket’s head of pur­chas­ing in Spain.

Once they had made con­tact with this im­pos­tor, al­though it was never in per­son, the gang started to place or­ders. In or­der to seem more con­vinc­ing they used cor­po­rate lo­gos, web­site tem­plates and email ad­dresses from gen­uine com­pa­nies.

The gang then sent lor­ries with false num­ber plates and fake liv­ery from real trans­port com­pa­nies to pick up the goods.

The pro­duce was then trans­ferred onto le­git­i­mate trans­port com­pany ve­hi­cles in Real (Va­len­cia) or Mer­cabarna (Barcelona) to be taken to its real des­ti­na­tions.

When the com­pa­nies were not be­ing paid af­ter the goods were shipped, they con­tacted the sup­posed su­per­mar­ket rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who at first made ex­cuses but then stopped an­swer­ing their calls.

The gang’s bosses made sure they were not named in any of the com­pa­nies or trans­ac­tions and even paid their un­der­lings through un­con­nected third par­ties, noted the Guardia Civil.

All the gang’s phone num­bers were reg­is­tered un­der false iden­ti­ties at a call cen­tre run by an Egyp­tian man who was in charge of find­ing work­ers to trans­fer the goods and rent­ing the ve­hi­cles.

Two com­pa­nies, based in Betxi (Castel­lón) and La Rin­conada (Sevilla), were de­frauded out of more than €2.5 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Guardia spokesman, the ring­leader was an Ital­ian man who com­manded great re­spect from the gang, who al­ways called him ‘El Capo’, as he be­longed to the Ital­ian mafia in Puglia.

The ‘god­fa­ther’, iden­ti­fied by the ini­tials S.D, had even at­tacked his own fam­ily with an explosive de­vice in 2014.

A to­tal of six sus­pects were ar­rested, in­clud­ing El Capo’s right-hand man, and another per­son is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The op­er­a­tion was car­ried out by the Tor­re­vieja Guardia civil ru­ral crime squad (ROCA) with sup­port from in­ves­ti­gat­ing courts in Orihuela and Va­len­cia.

'El Capo' was ar­rested by Guardia Civil of­fi­cers

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