Expats in Spain defrauded by bogus gas inspectors

Published:  26 May at 6 PM
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Spanish crooks posing as gas inspectors are believed to have defrauded around 5,000 expat residents all across the country before their arrests late last week.

Retirees from the Netherlands, the UK and Germany living in the Balearics, the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol were their main targets. Although the scam has been noted for several years, the improved methods used by the gang have caught thousands of older expats.

Telephone calls to arrange appointments with their victims, authentic gas board uniforms and fake IDs were used, with homeowners being informed a small, cheap repair was needed. Non-existent faults were then reported, with bills amounting to between 200 and 1200 euros, and portable valuables were stolen wherever possible.

The arrests of the 26 men involved police on the Costa Blanca, the Costa del Sol, in Madrid and in the Baleirics, and searches revealed over four million euros-worth of valuables, 25 luxury vehicles and two powerful motorcycles. All were confiscated, and the gang is now locked away and awaiting trial.

Gas bottle installations in private homes are subject to a five-yearly inspection, but Spain’s gas boards are stressing that appointments must be made by the home owner after receipt of a letter informing them an inspection is due. The homeowner is charged 60 euros, and the gas companies’ inspectors themselves have expressed concern that fraudsters may leave gas installations in a dangerous condition.
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