Monday, September 10, 2007

Crooks and Villains in Paradise

A tragic development on the Costa Blanca has been the recent influx of villains and crooks onto this previously unspoiled stretch of beautiful coastland. The Costa del Sol has had a reputation for harbouring such monsters for some years but until recently the Costa Blanca enjoyed some immunity from such influences.

Even in the last decade, the flavour of this region of Spain has undergone a metamorphosis, now featuring an alarming increase in the population of undesirable characters.

The mushrooming effect this migration of ne'er do wells has upon the community is deeply worrying. Too often we think of shady characters as distant, misty types who have nothing to do with us in our day to day lives. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

These people have children, the same as the rest of us; unfortunately just because someone is of dubious character this does not necessarily mean they have no money. So, their children attend the same private schools as ours. They bank in the same places, they shop in the same supermarkets, and they frequent the same restaurants as the rest of us.

The problem is, of course, that often these people are hard to distinguish from any other family living and working here. Too often they have arrived here with a pocketful of money (usually someone else's) and they then set about building a new environment, sometimes with all good intentions of cleaning up their act a little to enjoy a more respectable lifestyle.

In the true tradition of the crook going straight, such people are notoriously bad money managers and it all goes pear shaped when they run out of funds and have to launch a new scam incentive to generate more cash. Their victims then become the very people they know best and are therefore better able to deceive and swindle.

The rising incidence of confidence trickery, indebtedness and general shady behaviour is unfortunately encouraged by the blasé approach of the Spanish courts in dealing with such people. It is all too easy to borrow a large amount of money privately and then not pay it back. When the poor devil at source tries to retrieve his cash he finds himself unable to do so due to the limitations of the Guardia Civil and the Justice System in general.

The appeal system is antiquated, long winded and guaranteed to stretch over years, so villains and crooks confidently ignore the rulings of the tribunal court system, knowing the next summons to a higher court will take months or years to bring home.

In the meantime, they continue their programme of building a cash reserve on the backs of any individual or finance company foolish enough to lend them money.

A couple who left Spain recently went back to their country of origin with a nice fat wad of money, having taken multiple erroneous deposits to rent a shop space they had absolutely no title to whatever. Such scams go unpunished all the time on the Costa Blanca and show evidence of growing more serious with each passing day.

Until the court system in Spain speeds up a little and begins to really address the problem of fraud amongst the expatriate community, there will be little chance of improvement.

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