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He was 23 years old and, unlike any boy of his age, he had no cell phone, no computer, no credit card, no house ... For not having, he had no ID. However, he had an order to enter prison , more than 25 pending court requisitions and the Civil Guard elite on his heels for more than a year. A police and judicial attention that did not prevent his business from being better than ever: he was earning more than 300,000 euros a month , he hoped to pocket a million during the next Black Friday and part of what he earned was sent to his grandmother or donated to NGOs that worked with children. "I am a fugitive but free," he liked to say. A freedom that I tried to protect by changing my address every four days, renting the apartments two by two and taking up to eight cars to make a trip that would only take a few minutes. This is the story of Lupine, the greatest cyberstaffer in the history of Spain .
Lupine feared only one thing : the Central Operating Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard. A fear that, on different occasions, led him to impersonate an agent of this same Unit. That was his first mistake.
With a prodigious memory and a methodical and professional modus operandi , Lupine called the people he himself had cheated (his victims' phones had been obtained during the deception) and tried to extract the details of the investigation that the Royal Civil Guards would have shared With the victims.
To be credible, Lupine had learned the procedure and police slang perfectly , with expressions such as "diligence instruction" or "issuing commandments" that are not used in common language.
The precision with which the young man used the slang of the agents, his knowledge about the police work and the fact of knowing details such as the time that a bank should keep the recordings of his security cameras led investigators to think, during a Early phase of this story, that Lupine was a policeman and not a 23-year-old kid with an unusual intelligence.
As if it were a self-fulfilling prophecy, the fact that Lupine impersonated himself as a UCO agent was one of the factors that aroused the interest of this Benemérita unit. The other reason was an anomalous proliferation of Internet scams with common patterns and in which someone was earning a lot of money. It was a matter of tying up ends .
It is precisely at that moment that the game of the cat and the mouse begins between a twenty-something and some of the agents of the flower and cream of the Benemérita , with age to spare to be his father.
Out of the UCO radar
Few are the details that are known of the life of Lupine before entering the UCO radar. However, what we know is very illustrative about its character.
The kid sucked the lumpen since childhood and learned to look for life. Being a minor, he was criminally defendant in style: he developed a system with which to cheat Herbalife (the pyramid sales company that promises juicy income to housewives around the world resold their products to friends and acquaintances) with the which earned more than 8,000 euros per month . An amount that, however, pales against the 150,000 euros he had earned the month he was arrested.
His criminal debut coincides with his last ID, which dates from when he was still a minor. From that moment, Lupine begins the process of becoming a ghost.
"Man is the only animal that stumbles twice on the same stone," says the saying. A saying that does not apply to Lupine. Each time he is arrested, he strives to understand why he has been carved out so as not to make the same mistake again and alters in what his modus operandi is needed.
For years he employs a kind of scientific method applied to the world of crime . Meanwhile, it accumulates complaints, requisitions and eventually an order to enter prison. At this time, it is also soaked in the technique of other sophisticated criminals, such as counterfeiters with whom he lived for some time.
The perfected method
When Lupine enters the UCO radar, he has refined his own methodology, which consisted of creating fraudulent websites with names similar to those of legitimate websites selling technology products .
Webs that, to avoid being hunted, only remained on the Internet a few days before disappearing.
Their pages were taken care of to the smallest detail to give the appearance of being legitimate: they were designed to have a good web positioning, they had names very similar to other successful web pages, paid ads on Google to appear in prominent positions when introducing certain keywords in the search engine and made sure that they were easy to navigate and that they had (fake) offers succulent enough to invite the user to make an impulse purchase but without falling into a reckless offer.
During this purchase process, in addition to payment for a product that would never be delivered, Lupine was made with the name, ID number, phone number, credit card and other very important personal data of his victims.
Some data that I would use to continue squeezing them .
When a customer who still thought he had bought a real product on a legitimate website called to claim, Lupine took advantage of his gift of people to invent any computer failure and get that person to make more fraudulent purchases.
This young man was perfectly aware that the speed of moving money was a key factor in carrying out his scams. To do this, its network of frontmen opened and closed several accounts in different banks where money moved quickly. Thus, when the agents or security services of the financial institution tried to block the accounts or follow their trail, it had already disappeared .
The 23-year-old knew perfectly well how banks work . He knew in which entities the transfers were instantaneous, what were the response times, what kind of behaviors were suspicious and the time that the banks were required to keep the recordings of their security cameras.
Such a deep knowledge allowed Lupine to supplant the identity of the banks : he cheated his victims by posing as a bank representative and, when he had gained access to his victims' account, he emptied them and, if possible, also took advantage to request instant credits of up to 50,000 euros that he then moved through his network of accounts.
However, Lupine also had strange behaviors for a scammer . Sometimes he sent part of the money he stole to NGOs working with children. The Civil Guard also has proof that it sometimes sent money to its grandmother, the closest relative she had and she had not seen for years because she was aware that the agents would also have her under surveillance.
When one of his victims was able to contact him (because he had not yet gotten rid of the mobile number with which he had mounted that particular scam), Lupine came to be sympathetic and, at times, he re-entered half of the money he had given them Stolen. "For me this is a job, I make a living like this," he acknowledged them openly before giving them back part of what was stolen.
"Good thing you caught me because I was getting very bad"
"Good thing you caught me because I was getting very bad," he told UCO agents when they managed to hunt him down . Lupine was perfectly aware that what he was doing was wrong but, in principle, he had no intention of ruining anyone's life.
His logic was as follows: if someone has money to buy an iPhone or a PlayStation but it turns out that they cheat on that purchase, it will take a dislike but will not be suffering irreparable damage, he thought.
However, as Lupine was making scams every time the money stolen from individuals was increased and, although it may be true that no one sees his life truncated because he has been scammed when buying an iPhone, which you empty everything the money in the account or that they ask for a credit in your name and then steal from you are big words and can sink a person's life. Something that Lupine was fully aware of .
At first, some steps necessary to successfully carry out its criminal scheme - such as opening bank accounts or buying phone cards - are made by people close to it. However, as he earns more money he introduces at least three degrees of separation between him and his frontmen .
The frontmen (usually low-income people or in situations of exclusion and marginality) do not know Lupine and Lupine does not know them. He only talks to his lieutenants. Their lieutenants have distributed the national territory : there is an area of ??Madrid, an area of ??the Levant ... They are the link between Lupine and the frontmen who, on occasion, instead facilitate their own identity, look for mules that give their consent to put his name new phone cards and bank accounts, so that there have been up to five degrees of separation between them and the band leader .
Although he is completely on top of work, Lupine is able to delegate some tasks . He says how they have to be done (always from the same fixed template) and promote the web pages, but others are responsible for the tedious process of creating the domain, positioning it, etc.
To get more traffic - and therefore more sales on their websites - you even buy real profiles of active users in Wallapop with good ratings . Users who, in the eyes of this massive buying and selling community, are reliable and diligent: their experience and qualifications prove it.
Lupine hung the ads on Wallapop (in addition to other pages such as Milanuncios and LIVE) and used these profiles to announce their new pages. The users did not suspect that it was one since they were apparently profiles with very good ratings that had been operating for a long period of time.
However, there came a time when buying profiles did not seem enough and contacted the administrators of Wallapop in order to manipulate them to get more trust accounts that would allow him to earn more money.
So he slipped away from the Civil Guard
As we have said, the scheme grew and was perfected to such an extent that, during the last months, Lupine was earning about 300,000 euros a month . However, as his fortune increased his paranoia also increased.
This led him to live in a constant movement changing residence every four to five days . However, as with mobile phones and bank accounts, Lupine himself had a person in charge of renting the residences.
His henchmen rented the floors two by two (one used to work and the other to sleep) and were responsible for carrying suitcases and install the work equipment used to defraud. It was an extra measure of security in the fear that agents could fall on him at any time.
The places where he lived and worked had common characteristics: urbanizations or building blocks with physical doorman in which the janitor was responsible for renting homes for days. Payment was always made with cash. Without asking for documentation or asking questions about who was going to occupy the house or what he was going to do there.
In addition to taking care of his place of residence, Lupine was also especially cautious with his travels . He knew the number of units that usually carry out follow-up missions and changed taxi times to make sure there was no one on his heels. He paid his taxis in cash and even bribed the taxi drivers to make pulars like flipping in the middle of the Gran Vía in Madrid to make sure there were no snooping agents.
He took precautions worthy of one of the most wanted criminals but incorporated into his way of working typical elements of an entrepreneur who operates within the margins of the law: a workday was imposed, he had an agenda in which he marked important appointments and It even had medium and long-term business plans.
Lupine was preparing his big blow for Black Friday . He hoped to put all his scam machinery at full capacity and enter a million euros. In the long term, their business plans contemplated leaving the world of fraud when they had managed to save two million euros and, through frontmen, start legitimate business in the field of computer security .
Had he managed to retire, Lupine would be condemned to do so as a fugitive . Something that the Civil Guard considers feasible: the young man could live comfortably the rest of his days but would be bound to a life in hiding.
Drugs and lag: your big mistake
Despite his unusual criminal expertise, Lupine had a problem: He was too young, had too much money and liked to outdated. He spent his last summer touring the coast of Catalonia and the Levant: "the best summer of his life," he remembered but acknowledged that money "clouded his eyes" and began using drugs .
A summer of orgy and debauchery that came to worry Lupín himself to the point that he wrote down on his agendas that he should stop using drugs to have a clear mind and continue to cheat .
The lack of criminal maturity of Lupine contrasts with the seniority of the UCO team of men in charge of their hunting and capture . As they say in the Narcos series, "the criminal always needs to be lucky, the police only need to be lucky once," and Lupin's lag summer was one of the blows of luck for the Benemérita.
When Lupine ended up shackled with his hands behind his back, his luck finally ended. However, until that moment his security measures had served to dodge the Civil Guard up to three times .
The arrest came by surprise . He had just moved to a new house, one of his men had just left his bags and he was calm because he thought the agents had no control over that location. He was wrong. He did not understand how they could have an entry and search warrant signed by a judge if he had just moved and thought they had betrayed him.
Nor did he understand how they had been able to follow him: he had taken more taxis than the number of equipment that the Civil Guard used to use in the follow-ups . In the normal follow-ups, of course; but Lupine was an exception .
Handcuffed, defeated and surprised, Lupin's fear of the UCO became a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, he still had one last ace up his sleeve that would surprise those who arrested him: he asked one of his captors to identify himself and give him his number; Lupine memorized all the information and sang it some time later in the interrogation room . He hadn't missed a comma.
Currently behind bars, Lupine is still a ghost. Neither his face nor his real name are known and the only photo that exists on him outside a police file is on his back, with shackles on and with an UCO agent on each side. They managed to catch him, but this 23-year-old boy made them sweat the fat drop for a long time. "Without making the most of all our tools, personnel and surveillance we would never have taken it, we had to use our full potential to have it stopped," they admit.
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