Spanish Civil Guard uncover unusual vehicle tax avoidance scheme

epa05964226 (FILE) - An exterior view of the new Europol headquarters, the alliance of the European Union police and a multinational research organization, in The Hague, The Netherlands 01 July 2011, (reissued 14 May 2017). Media reports on 14 May 2017 state that experts of Europol expect a wave of further attacks on computers with so-called 'Ransomware'. A cyber attack hit at least 150 countries world wide with an estimate 200,000 victims, Europol chief Rob Wainwright was cited as saying in an interview with British broadcaster ITV. It is expected that there are even more attacks on computers recorded at the beginning of the new working week, Wainwright added. The so-called 'WannaCry' ransomware cyber attack hit the computers by encrypting files from affected computer units and demanded 300 US dollars through bitcoin to decrypt the files. EPA/LEX VAN LIESHOUT

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The Spanish Civil Guard, supported by Europol, have uncovered an unusual vehicle tax avoidance scheme and that resulted in  the arrest of 20 individuals and the seizure of 11 vehicles. Criminals acquired high-end vehicles outside the EU and tried to avoid paying taxes by claiming they bought the cars in Italy.

Operation Puledro began in April 2017 when law enforcement authorities found a car stolen from Poland on Spanish roads. Investigations revealed that members of a criminal ring dismantled in 2014 were operating again, this time with a new scheme to avoid paying taxes.

Criminals first bought luxury cars in Switzerland then took them to Spain, thereby evading all the checks and border controls. Once the vehicles passed their annual safety tests in Spain, the members of the network registered the cars with fake documents, pretending they bought them in Italy.

After two years of investigation, police searched ten houses in Spain, arrested twenty individuals and seized eleven vehicles. It is estimated that the trafficked vehicles were worth around €150 000.

Europol supported this operation from the beginning by cross-checking information and deploying an analyst on-the-spot with a Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) which allowed real-time cross-checks of the data gathered during the course of the operation. Europol’s experts were able to extract information from nine devices, while the remaining three are being analysed at Europol’s forensic lab.


Via Europol


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