14ymedio, Havana, 17 February 2023 — The Cuban Police arrested 126 people last year and deactivated 12 networks linked to the scam in the sale of foreign currency. According to a report published in official site Cubadebate, the Ministry of the Interior detected another 17 criminal plans and charged 67 suspected criminals, currently in pretrial detention, on whom, it assures, “severe sentences of deprivation of liberty” will fall.
It is not known how much money Cuban families have lost due to scam networks, but the number, the note suggests, is considerable. The Police warn that thieves are versatile when it comes to changing their modus operandi and constantly vary their strategy to avoid investigations.
The criminals, the report states, have a variety of methods to “hunt” the victims through social networks, in which they provide telephone numbers and offer attractive prices for the sale of dollars.
During the call, they appear to be people “supposedly correct, with impeccable vocabulary and they gladly agree on the address” for the exchange. Some criminals even use the victim’s home as a meeting point, passageways or multi-family buildings, and then carry out the violent robbery, with the help of knives or firearms.
The authorities do not report fatalities, but they acknowledge that there are people who have been seriously injured when they tried to confront the criminals.
Cubadebate warns that scammers make people believe that they are looking at a good deal, but do not identify themselves by their real name or give the victim clues as to where they can be located in the future. Contacts almost always occur on digital platforms, where there are “numerous candidates” due to “the lack of legal offers.”
As usual, the Government attributes the ultimate culpability for these events to the economic sanctions of the United States. The financial “suffocation” of the Island, they justify, produces little availability of exchange in state banks and the need to resort to the informal market to get dollars.
Most of the people accused of fraud, the report says, have criminal records and the Police attribute “terrible social behavior” to them, in addition to “being very violent to steal the money.”
The investigations of the Ministry of the Interior have required the “ingenuity” of the officers, who have had to explore the same digital platforms that fraudsters use to discover profiles of suspects.
People who are dedicated to selling foreign currency usually hang around the ATMs or exchange houses, where they offer a much more favorable exchange than does the State for dollars or freely convertible currency (MLC).
The illegal sale of currency is also the only way that some families have to obtain basic necessities that are scarce on the Island and are only sold in MLC.
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