EL VERGER´S Guardia Civil arrested a 58-year-old Spanish man and a 41-year-old Spanish woman in Denia this week for fraud, misappropriation, crimes against workers’ rights and falsifying documentation.
For two years, the pair have been collecting money through various means for an animal charity – which has been proven to be non-existent.
The fraudsters have scammed altruistic animal lovers into donating over €300,000, which has instead funded their lavish lifestyle.
The investigation was initiated after several concerned collaborators reported to the Guardia Civil that they suspected funds being raised were not being spent on the cause in hand.
The man, who boasted of being a wealthy businessman and the woman, his ‘right hand’ arrived in Denia in 2015 and formed the fake charity soon afterwards.
Through the fake charity, they signed agreements with several animal protectoras across the Marina Alta, pledging to build an animal shelter.
They organised fundraising campaigns and events to encourage donations towards the build of the animal shelter and hundreds of local establishments ingenuously displayed the fake charity’s collection boxes.
The fake charity and the build of the animal shelter came to have such a local impact that a well-known Denian not-for-profit collaborated with the fraudsters to raise funds over the 2016 /2017 Christmas campaign.
The campaign, thanks to publicity from the well-known not-for-profit tripled donations for the fake charity.
With no progress being made towards the build of the animal shelter but thousands of euros having been collected, the animal protectoras began to request documentation from the man and the woman earlier this year.
At this point, the man fled, leaving the woman in Denia.
Residents reported to the Spanish press that, when seen in Denia and quizzed regarding the whereabouts of the man, the woman would say he had been hospitalised but would never reveal where.
When the Guardia Civil took over the case, officers discovered, as expected, that the animal charity was not legally registered.
Officers found that the man had been using fake names for approximately 10 years and that he had carried out similar scams across Spain.
Both fraudsters were finally arrested at a house in Alcoy where officers found documentation proving the man’s true identity hidden in a safe.
The man – who was found to be wanted by several courts in Barcelona – is being detained in prison as he presents a flight risk whilst the woman has been released on bail.