The head coach of La Liga side Alaves has admitted being blackmailed by fraudsters who set up fake accounts on a website for finding escorts before forcing him to pay money to not reveal his secret to his family.
The police operation, named ‘Lubido-Hezurra’ was focused on the website www.pasion.com, and was launched in March 2018 after the authorities received several complaints from users of the website where men can contact local escorts to contract “sexual services”.
Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that two criminals, one identified by the initials I.B.O., alias ‘Salva’ and M.F.M., alias ‘Erik’, had posted “attractive messages and suggestive photos of escorts” which acted as bait for sexual encounters which would never happen.
The telephone numbers posted on the adverts were for pre-paid mobile phones bought by the criminal organisation reportedly headed by Salva and Erik.
When someone contacted the phones, the gang would allegedly begin blackmailing them, asking for money in return for them not revealing their use of the page to their family.
El Pais reports the gang would send threats such as “I’m going to rip your head off” or “I’ll kill you” if the person did not make the payments.
The gang reportedly managed to amass over 100 contacts using the bait scheme and a report from the Civil Guard says officers have “certified around 40 people were extorted with the criminal group obtaining around 500,000 EUR (429,850 GBP) illicitly.”
Among those who denounced the extortion was Alaves head coach Abelardo Fernandez, who has provided a statement reading: “I am making this statement to preserve the honour of my family, wife and children, as well as all my friends and people I know, and to avoid confusion and misinterpretations which affect everyone and myself personally.”
Fernandez confirmed he had denounced the crime and given a statement to the authorities but added that he could not provide more information at this time. He asked for “maximum respect” so that false information is not published which could be “serious accusations or insinuations about my personal life”.
Local newspaper Levante-EMV claimed Fernandez was extorted for 30,000 EUR (25,791 GBP) but this has not been confirmed.
The case is linked to that of Levante defender Tono Garcia who was arrested on 8th February on suspicion of belonging to a criminal organisation, extortion, making death threats, crimes against personal privacy, falsifying documentation, identity theft and money laundering.
Garcia has now been released and reports state the alleged criminal Salva was Garcia’s link to the gang. Garcia claims he kept 4,000 EUR for Salva because the alleged gang leader asked him to do so, claiming he had a gambling problem and it was the only way to stop him spending it on bets.
Salva, Erik and another 14 men were arrested and remain in detention. Local media report Salva will be charged with 32 counts of extortion and making threats. The case is ongoing.