AN online scammer convinced a woman he was employed by a well-known clothing company, and that he had a type of epilepsy which required costly medicine.
The profile of 26-year-old “Anxo”, from Arteixo in La Coruña, appeared on the dating social network Badoo in March 2013.
It featured two photos, and said he worked at the central headquarters of Inditex, a Spanish multi-national and parent company of clothing chain Zara.
Days later, a woman contacted him and they developed a friendship which led to a romance, all conducted via online messages and phone calls.
Anxo later added on his profile that he had dual US-Spanish nationality, was an orphan (his parents had died in a traffic accident) and that he suffered a strange form of epilepsy, which required extremely expensive medicine.
He told his online girlfriend that it had to be sent from the United States, and paid for at the US Embassy in Madrid. Each box, he said, cost 600 euros, and he needed 6,000 euros a month to pay for the treatment.
A month later, once he had won his girlfriend’s trust, Anxo chanced his arm again, telling her he’d been in an accident on the way to Madrid to collect his medicine. And, when asked by traffic authorities for his identification, he realised he’d had left his wallet, containing the 6,000 euros at home.
“The car needs to be urgently repaired, and, as soon as I return home, I will pay you back,” he told her. His girlfriend deposited 13,000 euros in his bank account that day to cover the costs of the car repairs and the treatment. But he never returned the money.
When he returned to Galicia, he said he couldn’t find his wallet and assumed he’d lost it.
After a few days offline, Anxo told his girlfriend that he’d had an epileptic attack at work and fallen to the floor, breaking his mobile phone, which was why he hadn’t contacted her.
He said the attack had landed him at the Juan Canalejo Hospital in A Coruña.
The next day, pretending to be a work friend, he told her: “I have bad news. Anxo is in a crisis and has been sent unconscious to hospital, which means he can’t access the money he owes you. But he still has expenses.
“He has to continue to pay for his special American medicine, and a specialist has to come from Valencia to try to surgically intervene and install a brain electrode.”
She sent him another 5,000 euros and, soon afterwards, Anxo said he’d recovering from the epilepsy attack. He also told the woman he would return all the money because he had inherited a large estate from his parents, and that he’d received compensation when they both died in the accident.
He then said he was going to be transferred to Valencia for the specialist operation. But Anxo feigned more troubles.
Once in Valencia, he said he needed a medical helicopter to fly him back to Galicia. After receiving another bank transfer, he asked his girlfriend to pay for the tax bill to claim his inheritance. Meanwhile, the debt ballooned to 53,081 euros.
Finally, the woman caught on, and reported him to the police after he warned her in a voice message: “I promise you, you are going to regret this, I am going to ruin your life,” and disappeared offline.
But he was traced by police and summoned to appear in court, where his final voice message was used by Pontevedra’s Provincial Court court prosecutors to demand Anxo, identified as ADL in the court filings, be sent to prison.
The accused, who faces four years in jail, has been ordered to return all the money he stole from his online girlfriend, with interest, as well as 10,000 euros in compensation for psychological damage inflicted on her.
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