Over 30 people accused of ripping hundreds of British holidaymakers off through bank card fraud, have been arrested in the Canary Islands.
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Police say gang members - who include shopkeepers in popular tourist resorts in the south of Tenerife - are suspected of stealing nearly £1.5 million from their victims.
Their modus operandi consisted of swiping holidaymakers' plastic through card readers registered to bogus firms multiple times after conning the tourists into believing there was a problem with the legitimate terminals in their shops.
The machines were used in shops in places like Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje in Tenerife as well as tourist resorts in neighbouring Gran Canaria.
The alarm was sounded by a bank which had unwittingly supplied one of the fraudsters with a terminal when he used it to try to invoice £600,000 in a single month.
Ten people tasked with opening bank accounts the cash from victims was transferred to once it had been received by the shopkeepers were held in an initial police swoop.
The remaining detainees were arrested in a second operation.
Hundreds of the victims are understood to be British.
A spokesman for the National Police in Gran Canaria, which tipped off colleagues in Tenerife after being contacted by a bank, said: "The trick these fraudsters employed was to obtain point of sale devices from banks in the name of fictitious companies.
"Thirty-one people have been arrested and we believe the amount defrauded could be around the £1.5 million mark.
"Victims were carefully selected with those the gang felt were less likely to realise they were being duped, the ones that were targeted.
"In those cases the terminals fraudulently obtained from the banks - rather than the ones registered to their legal users - were used to swipe victims' cards two, three or more times.
"The gang operated in tourist resorts in the south of Tenerife but also in Gran Canaria.
"Often victims didn't realise they had been defrauded until they got home and checked their bank accounts."