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How to report a crime of fraud and recover the money?

Criminal Law
How to report a crime of fraud and recover the money?

New technologies have changed the way we relate to other people and the world, and have even changed the way we work. It is not strange to think that every day there are more scams on the Internet, but there are not only scams on the Internet, but the crime of scam can occur through the use of credit or debit cards, opening an email or a message on our mobile phone, etc. 

Currently, the crime of fraud is one of the most common crimes in Spain. In this article you will learn what the crime of fraud is, the types of scams that exist, how to report the scam in Spain, how to initiate criminal proceedings for fraud and recover the money, and finally you will learn whether scams have a statute of limitations or not.

What does the crime of fraud consist of? 

The crime of fraud, regulated in article 248 of the Penal Code, and this type of crime punishes the offender who uses deception to cause error in the victim, or induces a person to carry out an act of disposition to the detriment of themselves or others. In practice it means that the criminal uses deception so that the victim carries out some act of property disposal such as delivering something (money) or encumbering a property, among others. 

Furthermore, it is necessary that there be a profit motive, that is, that the person who perpetrates the crime does so with the intention of enriching himself, that is, that he seeks to make money. 

The basic criminal offense of fraud is punishable by prison sentences of between 6 months and 3 years. However, it must be taken into account that the penalty will be graduated depending on the amount defrauded, the relationship that the offender had with the victim or the means that were used to commit the crime.

Regarding the serious crime of fraud, this aggravated type is punishable by prison sentences of 1 to 6 years and fines of 6 to 12 months.

Finally, the minor crime of fraud is punishable by a fine of 1 to 3 months.

Examples of scams in Spain

Every day a multitude of scams occur in our country, so there are many different types of fraud, and each case is different, but these are the most common:

  • An example of a scam would be when you receive an email or an SMS that appears to be from a well-known bank or post office, and completely voluntarily but deceived, you hand over the keys to carry out a certain money transaction. You realize that you have been scammed when your money disappears from your bank account without any explanation and without authorizing any operation.
  • Another example of a scam would be the case of making a very large bank transfer to a bank account of a business that does not exist, and that has used the brand of a company or the appearance of being an important company so that you trust them, and you give a large amount of money. You realize that you have been scammed when, after making the bank transfer, you contact the alleged company, and no one answers you, you check its activity and observe that it does not exist, because it is a ghost company. 
  • Another example of a very common scam is the pyramid scam, in most cases it consists of an investment offer in euros or cryptocurrencies (bitcoins, etc.), in which the victim is asked for a very large amount of money to Invest in a product that will later generate very high interest. Whether it is investment in real estate products, online financial products, cryptocurrencies, etc. 

The latter is one of the most difficult scams to determine in the short term due to its completely legal appearance, but it is characterized by the fact that the investor periodically pays amounts of money to bank accounts provided by the investment platform in question, without the victim scam can know where the money that has been invested periodically is.

Types of scam according to the Penal Code

In Spain there are different types of fraud regulated in the Penal Code, and they are the following:

  • Basic crime of fraud: punishable by a prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years, it consists of causing, using deception, the victim to carry out an act of asset disposal for profit, up to 50,000 €.
  • Minor crime of fraud: punishable by a fine of 1 to 3 months, occurs when the amount of the fraud does not exceed 400 euros. 
  • Aggravated crime of fraud: punishable by a prison sentence of 1 to 6 years and a fine of 6 to 12 months, occurs when the crime involves essential goods or housing, when the crime is perpetrated using the signature of another, when it occurs on assets of artistic, historical, cultural or scientific heritage, when the value of the defrauded exceeds 50,000 euros, when the offender is a repeat offender or when the crime is committed by abusing the personal relationships existing between the victim and the fraudster.

How to report a crime of fraud? 

When you are a victim of fraud, it is essential to report it as soon as possible to the Police, both through the Internet and by going to the police stations or directly to the Court.

However, prior to filing a complaint, it is recommended to go to a criminal lawyer who is an expert in scams to determine how to make the complaint, and establish a legal strategy so that the scam has a judicial impact, both to convict the criminal to recover the swindled money. 

When filing a complaint for a crime of fraud, it is advisable to present the following documents:

  • Document that proves the identity of the complainant, such as the National Identity Document, Passport or Foreigner Identity Number.
  • List of stolen objects. It is very important to be as specific as possible when making this list. It is best, whenever possible, to provide the series, model and brand of each object, as well as any characteristic that facilitates their identification.

Steps to report a crime of fraud and recover the defrauded money

Since the reform of the Penal Code in 2015, misdemeanors became minor crimes. This is why all scams are considered a crime, which is why it is necessary to settle the criminal liability derived from this crime before the criminal jurisdictional bodies. However, there are two options to report a crime of fraud:

  • Go to the Police with a lawyer: you can go to the police authorities, either through the complaint form provided on their website, or by going to the police station. However, it is recommended to report with the help of a scam lawyer in order to guarantee a good criminal strategy and so that you can receive quality criminal advice. Through your criminal lawyer you will know everything you need to report the scam and recover the money.
  • Go to the Criminal Courts with a lawyer: another option, perhaps more unknown, is to go directly to the Courts. Despite being less popular than the previous one, this is the best option when you know the identity of the person who committed the crime or you want to recover all the swindled money more quickly and easily.

Does the crime of fraud expire in time to be able to report it?

Before answering whether this type of crime expires in time or not, you should know that fraud is one of the crimes in our Penal Code that is recommended to be reported as soon as possible in order to recover the defrauded money sooner. In addition, you should know that if the scam is detected in time, there are more chances of finding the criminal and recovering the swindled money.

As for the statute of limitations, in the case of minor crimes it will be 1 year. In the case of serious crimes, it will be 5 years, and in very serious crimes, the time to report will expire after 10 years.

What happens after filing a complaint?

It is important to know that, since the reform of the Penal Code in 2015, only complaints in which the person who committed the crime is identified are sent to the Court.

However, the reports in which the perpetrator of the crime is not identified will remain in police stations at the disposal of the Public Prosecutor's Office or Judicial Authority, so that they can be investigated and the criminal found as soon as possible.

Whether you are in a position to know the name of the criminal, or do not know it, it is still recommended to go to a law firm as soon as possible, to be able to file the corresponding complaint, and recover the swindled money.

Contact our law firm, and our expert national and international fraud lawyers will study your specific case. We offer criminal assistance and advice at a national and international level. In addition, we have:

Law office in Barcelona
Law office in Tarragona
Law office in Reus
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