Updated: May 8
Fraud in the British expat community appears endemic but much of it is hidden by the victims themselves who are reluctant to come forward to report it to the authorities. This reluctance only feeds an industry that lives off the savings and income of people who had hoped to be able to live the dream in Spain.
The dream often becomes a nightmare and for some that nightmare starts almost on arrival in Spain. Sometimes the fraud is so blatant that one is left in a state of bewilderment as to how someone had fallen for it – but they did, they do, and they will.
We were alerted to a couple whose dream move from Britain to Spain hit the rocks on arrival.
They were in their mid-50s had been working all their lives, working people with a work ethic and were looking for a new challenge.
They did their research too – this was not a spur of the moment decision but one they thought through.
They decided to buy a business – a going concern which had premises and what they liked was an apartment upstairs where they would be able to live while they made it work.
They went to a lawyer, they checked Facebook groups and took holidays to get acquainted with the area and its population – their new customers and checked out a few social groups in the area.
In this they met a man who was apparently connected and respected in the community – he told them their idea was a great one – in fact they were onto something. He also mentioned that he knew someone who had a similar business with premises and apartment which due to a need for an urgent sale was at a bargain price – they had to hurry of course – another party was drawing up the paperwork.
Out went common sense and in came the biggest mistake of their lives. They rushed through the sale – paid in cash at a notary – which later turned out to be a front and handed over all their life savings – in return for…nothing.
There was no business, no apartment and as quickly as he appeared he was off the scene.
And as quickly their lives ruined and upended – the British Benevolent Fund were able to provide some emergency accommodation and a flight home. They filed a police report but as they left the country its wasn't followed up.
The perpetrator is still out there – along with many others – if it's too good to be true it really is…too good to be true.