The couple discovered during the coronavirus lockdown that almost 40,000 euros had disappeared from their bank account without them realizing it
They ran a busy restaurant, so their bank account always showed a lot of movement. This is why the owners of El Deo in Rincón de la Victoria, on the eastern Costa del Sol, did not notice that they had been the victim of a fraud allegedly perpetrated by their insurance agent.
It was during the pandemic that they finally got it. During the lockdown, there was less activity on the bank account and their balance suddenly went into the red. “We had to ask for a loan because we didn’t have money to live on,” Miguel Galo told SUR.
The family claim their insurance agent, a man they had trusted for years, had taken out around 50 policies without their consent and given their bank details for payment.
“Between the two of us, we had apparently taken out 40 funeral policies,” said Miguel’s wife, María Teresa Zaragoza. They contacted the police about a fraud which they said had cost them 34,860.38 euros. The policies were in the names of other people, including those of the insurance agent and his wife.
“When we realized the money was gone, I told my sister about it and she looked up our bank details,” María Teresa said, “and she found receipts for insurance policies for three houses on the beach, a villa, a boat, a car…”.
“We trusted him completely. We had been using him since 2011 and we couldn’t believe it because we considered him a friend, but we even paid for his car insurance and his wife’s as well,” she said.
They believe the insurance company, Generali Seguros, should have noticed something was wrong, but a lawyer acting on behalf of the company said it was also affected because it has a network of trusted agents and that she had also been defrauded by him.
Once the company was alerted to the fraud, it carried out detailed checks. There is a discrepancy on the amount that the customers had lost – Generali calculates the amount at around 12,000 euros and has deposited this amount with the court for a possible settlement of the legal case.
A double fraud
However, the police are also investigating and say they discovered that the agent also had another scheme, whereby if a customer’s payment was returned by his own bank, he would instead give the bank details of Miguel and María Teresa for the payment.
The insurance company manager allegedly told police that when he learned of the fraud and phoned the agent to ask for an explanation, he said he took full responsibility for everything and blamed his wife, who took care of the financial side of his business.
The agent and his wife were arrested for alleged fraud. They refused to give a statement to the police and were released pending trial.