How fraud works in Spain
The term fraud refers to a deception caused by an individual, employee or organisation for personal gain either on a domestic or international scale. Typically, such deceitful activity is used to gain an advantage over a competitor or generate an illegal profit. Consequently, the perpetrator will benefit from the illegal act whilst the other parties involved will be harmed. An example would be if an employee were to steal money from a companies register as the employee would benefit from getting additional capital at the expense of the company.
There are three key principles upon which fraud is built upon:
- Opportunity – Opportunity refers to the circumstances that allow fraud to occur. It is the only of three components that a company exercises complete control over. However, it is this control or lack thereof which allows fraud to happen. For example, weak internal controls such as poor monitoring of duties can give rise to opportunities for fraud.
- Incentive – This refers to an employee´s mindset towards committing fraud. An example could be an individual´s personal incentives such as wanting to earn more money in order to pay bills or fund a gambling addiction.
- Rationalisation – This refers to an individual´s justification for committing fraud. An example could be an individual who is spiteful towards their manager and believes they should get payback
The methods used by fraudsters are extremely varied.
So as a result the Law doesn’t provide a definitive list, instead, it is up to the interpretation of the judge. However, below is a list of what is generally considered to be fraud.
- The deception must lead directly to a loss for the victim; for example, the victim sent money as a direct result of the scam
- The deception must be sufficiently elaborate – i.e. the scam must seem real enough to have caused the victim to be deceived
- The most common types of fraud in Spain are phishing (sending fraudulent emails which appear to be from legitimate businesses in order to steal personal details such as bank details and passwords), rental listing fraud (advertisement of fake properties), fraud via dating sites/apps, the creation of fake websites
What steps should I take if I have been a victim of fraud?
- Identify the fraudster and how they scammed you. If you have been scammed online, change your passwords and contact your bank if money has been taken from your credit card.
- Contact them; they may wish to return what they have taken in order to avoid legal action.
- Collect proof of the fraud e.g. screenshots, emails.
- Try to quantify the fraud (how much money you were asked to send). The punishment for fraud depends on the amount of money you were tricked into sending. Part of the proof may be bank transfers.
- Contact our specialist lawyers. We will analyse your case and advise you on the proof you need and the steps you should take to file a complaint against the fraudster and get your money back.
What are the consequences for the fraudster?
How the fraud will be punished depends on the value of the goods/money taken in the scam. If the scam does not exceed 400€, it is a minor crime and is punished with a fine. However, if the total sum exceeds 400€ it is then considered a “Estafa Agravada” and can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 8 years in prison with a fine of 24 months.
Therefore, if you have been scammed by a business, they will be fined and prevented from receiving subsidies and from providing services related to the scam. In more serious cases, the company’s management will be taken over by a person appointed by the court, or the company will be dissolved.
In the event that the fraudster is a private individual, the punishment will depend on the amount of money/goods taken, the number of people involved in the scam, the damage caused to the victim, the type of goods being taken, whether public documents have been falsified, whether someone’s signature has been falsified, and whether the individual is a reoffender.
Finally and taking into account every previously, the rules and regulations concerning fraud are devised by the national Anti– fraud office, an autonomous body within the State Agency of the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate (ITSS). They work to improve deterrence and detection of undeclared work, irregular employment and fraud against social security (stated in Law 23/2015). In addition, they also work to ensure workers’ rights, which are often not guaranteed when irregular employment takes place. What´s more, it works to coordinate efforts with other public administrations on both a national and regional level.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is not definitive, for up to date legal advice which is relevant to your case please contact our lawyers.