Police in Spain have arrested 84 Western Union employees on suspicion of money laundering and collaboration a criminal organisation of Nigerian internet fraudsters. The arrests were made at exactly the same time at the end of July at 51 branches of the Western Union money transfer service across Spain. Spanish investigators believe the offices of Western Union played a role in the illegal transfer of 11.5 million euro to branches in other countries. The money itself appears to have come from fraud operations, including dating fraud and advance-fee scams.
Organised criminal gangs, often based in Ghana, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, are known to try – and frequently succeed – in using clever internet and e-mail scams to get men, women and children to part with their money. The resulting ‘income’ is illegal in many countries, including Spain. Fraudsters often make use of exchange and money-transfer services, such as Western Union, to move the money to other parts of the world.