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Posts Tagged ‘scams’

Careful with Scammers Posing as Spanish Lawyers

March 18th, 2009

who is this businessmanWithin the last year we’ve seen an alarming increase in the number of queries regarding the legitimacy of certain Spanish law firms and lawyers. These companies are in fact non-existent and act only as shelter companies devised to fleece foreigners offering them dubious legal services often related to some murky financial interest, which is in the end nothing but some sort of advance fee fraud (http://en NULL.wikipedia Foreigners should be well advised that these scammers pass themselves off as legitimate Spanish law firms and lawyers. They prey exclusively on foreigners and are in fact not even Spanish themselves. Their command of English is very good.

Spanish lawyers belong to one of the numerous Bar Associations that sprawl throughout Spain. There are a total of 83. Every lawyer member of a BA will have a registered number. It is very easy to check in less than a minute if a Spanish lawyer is legitimate, providing he is in fact registered of course.

These fraudsters will always contact you to offer legal assistance in some service of which you by chance are the sole lucky beneficiary. The potential reward to reap is huge (hundreds of thousands if not millions) in exchange of a reasonable legal fee which in comparison doesn’t seem like much. The preffered contact method is email (which they may follow up by ordinary post), and they will offer you either of the following legal “services”:

  1. Letting you know that after a long and winding investigation it has surfaced that you are the sole live beneficiary of a considerable Spanish inheritance from some distant relative you had in Spain (unbeknown to you) that has sadly passed away.
  2. Offering you to join group actions to recover deposits from bogus resale time share companies in ongoing court proceedings (Reclaim Certificates (http://www NULL.thisismoney NULL.html?in_article_id=401923&in_page_id=19&in_author_id=5)).
  3. Notifying you that you have won the Spanish Lottery (despite never having played it) or that you have been selected in a random draw and are now the lucky beneficiary of a special promotion from the generous Spanish Lotto Administration.
  4. Contacting you regarding using your bank account, in exchange of a sizeable commission, for some million dollar bank transfer with origin in some dodgy place in Africa. This is known as the Nigerian Letters.
  5. Offer to assist you in the verification and payment of unclaimed funds located in Spain of which you happen to be the only beneficiary.

An example of enquiries about such bogus firms are the following:

  • Martinez e Beneficio (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=117)
  • Alberto Ganez Y Socio (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=155)
  • Perez, Gonzalez and Associates (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=97) & Perez, Carrera and Associates (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=97)

Our recommendation, as always, is to never ever pay moneys upfront if you have the slightest suspicion about the legitimicay of the people you are dealing with.

We have compiled a list of bogus law firms (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=382)which is continously updated.

Other interesting related links:

  • Protecting Yourself from Pyramid or “Ponzi” Schemes – 21st February 2009
  • Fraudulent sell of shares from Spain – Boiler rooms (http://www NULL.fsa NULL.shtml) UK FSA’s link.
  • Timeshare resellers: Be careful! (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers – 23rd of August 2001
  • Lottery Fraud: Yet Another Scam (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers – 24th September 2001
  • Is the ‘El Gordo Lottery Sweepstake Company’ a genuine company? (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers
  • European Mediation Limited (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=77)
  • Bogus Holiday Club Membership (mostly in Canaries) (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.php?t=365)

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Protecting Yourself from Pyramid or “Ponzi” Schemes

February 21st, 2009

Businesswoman with handful of cashAs history’s finest investor, Mr Warren Buffet, once said, “You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide rolls out”. Well the tide has rolled out and investors are panicking withdrawing and liquidating their portfolios in a frantic rush against time to raise funds. It is in such dire times of massive redemption requests when Ponzi schemes (http://en NULL.wikipedia are unravelled in all crudity and it becomes all too apparent who was in fact swimming naked. Within the last months we’ve witnessed Madoff’s and this very week Stanford’s Ponzi schemes imploding, sucking in their wake thousands of millions of euros. Are we immune in Spain to such financial ploys? Not so.  

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

This scam involves promising high yields (above the market average) to dazzle gullible investors. These yields are actually paid to existing investors from the funds of newcomers. So a Ponzi scheme needs to continuously lure in a base of new investors to self-perpetuate itself. They normally spread themselves like viruses by word-of-mouth but do not frown advertising themselves in local newspapers. The first recorded case was in the USA in the last quarter of the XIX century although its name is taken from an Italian-American immigrant, Charles Ponzi, who fleeced thousands of investors in Boston in the 1920’s out of 10 million dollars. 

How Long do they Last

Not long, normally only months or a couple of years at most, a noticeable exception would be Madoff’s which lasted remarkably over three decades escaping all detection. As these pyramids need to continuously find a new influx of investors to meet the promised repayments of existing ones they eventually self-implode collapsing like a house of cards as they are unable to keep the rapidly growing pace. Noticeable cases in Spain (aimed exclusively at Spaniards) have been Forum Filatélico and AFINSA both dealing with postage stamps.

I’m too Smart to be Caught in One

No-one is too smart. Judging by Madoff’s and now Stanford’s cases in which the World’s supposedly finest and most sophisticated affluent investors have been caught-up one should not underestimate one’s own greed. These scammers are top salesman and bank on people’s greed to make a living. In fact these Ponzi schemes are not that rare at all in Spain.

If you pick up any weekly English newspaper sold in Spain you will read advertisements that promise you suspiciously two digit yields from exotic and often obscure foreign opportunities. Naturally, these financial advisors are unregulated by Spain’s CNMV (the equivalent of the UK’s FSA) and prey exclusively on foreigners, preferably on their own countrymen to create rapport. The reason that Spaniards are not targeted is that they would quickly raise the alarm of the local authorities so they are careful to only target foreigners, the elder the better, so as to go undetected for as long as possible. Then regularly wind up these boiler rooms and move on to their next scam. As it’s often said, if it sounds too good to be true it often is.

What do I do if I Suspect of One?

You can contact Spain’s CNMV (http://www NULL.cnmv NULL.htm) to check the financial advisors that have contacted you are indeed regulated to offer you financial products such as company shares. The CNMV regularly updates in its website such fraudulent companies. If you suspect the yield is too high you may want to take a second professional opinion from an unbiased source such as a chartered financial advisor or a qualified lawyer.

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