Using a fake social media profile, the trickster claimed he had a rare form of epilepsy in a bid to to wheedle money from his girlfriend
In March 2013, a profile of a 26-year-old man named Anxo from Arteixo in La Coruña appeared on the dating social network Badoo. According to his profile, which featured two photos, he worked at the central headquarters of Inditex – the Spanish multinational and parent company of clothing chain Zara. Days later a woman contacted him and they developed a friendship that then turned romantic – all via online messages and phone calls.
He later added on his profile that he had dual US-Spanish nationality, was an orphan (his parents had died in a traffic accident) and suffered a strange form of epilepsy that required costly medicine. Anxo told his online girlfriend that this medicine had to be sent from the United States and paid for at the US Embassy in Madrid. Each box cost €600 and he needed €6,000 a month to pay for the treatment.
One month later, once he had won his girlfriend’s trust, Anxo called her and said he had been in an accident on the way to Madrid to collect his medicine, and when asked by traffic authorities for his identification, realized he had left his wallet with the €6,000 at home. “The car needs to be urgently repaired and as soon as I return home I will pay you back,” he told her. His girlfriend deposited €13,000 in his bank account that day to cover the costs of the car repairs and the treatment. But he never returned the money. When he got back to Galicia, he said he couldn’t find his wallet and had given it up as a lost.
After a few days offline, Anxo told his girlfriend that he had had an epileptic attack at work and fallen to the floor and broken his cellphone – which was why he hadn’t contacted her. He said the attack had landed him at the Juan Canalejo Hospital in A Coruña.
The next day, pretending to be a work friend, he told her: “I have bad news. Anxo is in a crisis and has been sent unconscious to hospital which means he can’t access the money he owes you. But he still has expenses. He has to continue to pay for his special American medicine and a specialist has to come from Valencia to try to surgically intervene and install a brain electrode.” She gave him another €5,000.
Recovering from the epilepsy attack, Anxo told the woman that he was going to return the money because he had inherited a large estate from his parents and received compensation when they both died in the accident. He then said he was going to be transferred to Valencia for the specialist operation.
But Anxo feigned more troubles. Once in Valencia, he said he needed a medical helicopter to fly him back to Galicia. After receiving another bank transfer, he asked his girlfriend to pay for the tax bill to claim his inheritance. The debt continued to grow, ballooning to €53,081.
The woman finally reported him to the police after he warned her in a voice message: “I promise you, you are going to regret this, I am going to ruin you life,” and disappeared offline. This last voice message was used by prosecutors to demand Anxo, who is identified as A. D. L. in the court filings, be sent to prison.
The accused faces four years in jail and has been asked to return all the money he stole from his online girlfriend, with interest, as well as €10,000 in compensation for psychological damage.