LONDON (AP) — Authorities have arrested more than 100 people in Britain, Spain, Serbia and the United States in a sweeping operation targeting financial fraud racketeers, officials said Friday.
Police raided 35 properties in the four countries in connection with "boiler room" gangs who dupe victims into buying worthless or nonexistent stocks. Of the arrests, 84 occurred in Spain, 20 in Britain, four in Serbia and two in the U.S. Most were on suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
About 300 police officers in Spain and 40 in London carried out raids in Barcelona, Madrid, Marbella and London.
London Police Commander Steve Head said the suspects had stolen millions of pounds from more than 1,000 victims, many of them British retirees.
The raids earlier this week were made public Friday after a Spanish judge lifted a reporting ban.
"Boiler rooms" are illegal operations in which the conspirators try to sell worthless stocks to potential investors, effectively taking their money while knowing full well they will never get a return on the investment. The practice has recently been made famous by the Oscar-nominated film "The Wolf of Wall Street" starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
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