Costa del Sol News - 26th April 2007

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week 26th April - 2nd May 2007

 

Tax scam warning

Fraudsters obtain credit card details after promising rebates

BY JAMES PARKES
THE SPANISH TAX OFFICE HAS DETECTED A NEW SCAM TO OBTAIN INTERNET USERS’ BANK DETAILS WITH THE EXCUSE OF A SUPPOSED TAX REFUND.

Using the method know as ‘phishing’, scam operators have been sending out thousands of emails using the official Agencia Tributaria logo informing internet users they have a pending tax rebate.
The link provided in the email takes the user to a page that simulates that of the tax office
Using the method know as ‘phishing’, scam operators have been sending out thousands of emails using the official Agencia Tributaria logo informing internet users they have a pending tax rebate.
The link provided in the email takes the user to a page that simulates that of the tax office which includes a form that must be filled in to obtain the alleged tax return. Data requested includes a credit card number.
Readers are warned they must discard this email immediately. The Agencia Tributaria never sends email requesting personal data and does not sent tax returns via credit card.
The domain used by the fraudsters is www.aeats.eu, which is not one of the official Agencia Tributaria websites, these being www.aeat.es, www.agenciatributaria.es and www.agenciatributaria.com.
Police believe the scam is being more effective than others due to the proximity of the annual IRPF tax declaration period.

PHISHING AROUND
Phishing is the computer term for criminal activity involving the attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information (passwords, bank details, etc) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. Banks and internet companies trading frequently in online purchases (eBay and PayPal) are the most targeted companies. Costa del Sol News has reported previously of such scams targeting customers of banks in Spain such as BBVA, La Caixa and BSCH among others. Again banks warn they never request such sensitive information by email.
Phishing is typically carried out by the use of email or instant messages. Users are redirected to a website or phone number in which the sensitive information is requested.
Phishing techniques include link manipulation (the website address appears to be bona fide but you are actually linked up to the phishers’ site), website forgery and phone phishing (using fake freephone or fake numbers)It is estimated that in the UK, losses from web banking fraud – mainly by phishing – doubled from £12.2 million in 2004 to £23.2 million in 2005. One in every 20 users claimed to have lost out to phishers in 2005.


Ambulance tyre-slashing investigation launched

Vandalism attack left Costa without 061 ambulance coverage

By Oliver McIntyre

A MÁLAGA COURT LAST WEEK OPENED AN OFFICIAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE VANDALISM ATTACK ON MARCH 20 THAT BRIEFLY LEFT THE COSTA’S ENTIRE 061 AMBULANCE FLEET OUT OF SERVICE WITH SLASHED TYRES.

With the opening of the court investigation, EPES, the public company that operates the 061 ambulances, has suspended its internal investigation into the incident and handed over all of its information to the police.
EPES had requested the launch of a criminal investigation, filing a police complaint the morning of the attack, which affected the seven 061 ambulances in Málaga city and the three stationed in Marbella, Mijas and Vélez-Málaga, leaving the entire Costa without coverage for about an hour.

‘EXTREMELY SERIOUS’
The provincial director of EPES, Guillermo García, expressed the company’s “clear determination to go the distance in identifying the person or people who did this and the circumstances surrounding the incident, which we consider extremely serious.” To date no arrests have been made.The vandalism attack, which left some of the ambulances with three or even all four tyres punctured, occurred in the midst of a tense collective bargaining process between emergency-services workers and EPES.


Criminals can be tried in their own countries

By Tom Cain

An agreement allowing judges throughout the European Union to try people for crimes committed in other EU states has come into force.
Under the deal any person accused of a criminal act in Spain who has returned home to escape justice can now be hauled before the courts in their country of origin provided the victim is there as well.
In tests carried out over the last year in Great Britain, Netherlands and Belgium, four cases of crimes committed in Spain have been investigated and tried.
The most serious of these cases involved a Dutch national who confessed to a serious sex crime committed in Benidorm over a year ago. The case file was sent to Holland where judges there carried out the full judicial procedure.
Prosecutors in Spain say that the new system is very important because of the growing number of crimes committed in the province that go unpunished because the aggressor returns to his or her country of origin.
Judicial authorities have set up a special prosecutor’s office to speed up the paperwork involved in referring such cases to other judicial areas.From now on people who have committed a serious crime in another member state who think they have escaped punishment are now finding that the long arm of the law is able to reach them.


Invespania residents battle infrastructure charges

Residents say costs should be paid by developer

By David Eade

FOR THREE YEARS NOW PROPERTY OWNERS AT INVESPANIA HAVE BEEN WAGING A WAR AGAINST MASSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE CHARGES.

The urbanisation is located on the hillside behind San Diego off the A-7 near the provincial boundary between Málaga and Manilva.
A British resident of the San Roque urbanisation, who does not want to be named, told the Costa del Sol News that there are 17 houses involved, six of them belonging to Spaniards. Homeowners have written to the Junta de Compensación that now controls both their land and additional areas of the hillside where a massive development is to be built, but CDSN’s source said that “not one [letter] has ever been acknowledged or replied to.”
This lamentable situation exists on an urbanisation which residents believe could be unique, as it is virgin land, and hence any costs incurred by the developers in creating the infrastructure should be incorporated into the new property purchase prices, as happens in other new developments. The eventual development is going to be enormous, with single dwellings and apartment blocks which will create huge profits for the developer, so residents are at a loss as to why they should have to pay up, especially as they already have an access road that runs alongside the majority of their properties.

CONSTRUCTION DAMAGE
To add injury to insult, some homes have suffered structural damage because of the movements of heavy machinery, and when construction starts in earnest homeowners say it will be a nightmare.
Despite this, property owners have been assured by the developer that their properties will increase in value. The British resident who spoke to CDSN said: “None of them seem to realise we like living in these properties and they are only of value if we decide to sell. Indeed, because of these exorbitant costs, some may be required to sell to pay.”
Needless to say, all the protests by the residents have fallen on deaf ears. However, now that municipal elections are looming it is possible that local politicians may take up these residents’ case and speak out on their behalf.


San Roque refinery faces closure threat

NEWS Staff Reporter

After the third release of toxic fumes in a month, the Cepsa refinery in San Roque has been told the facility could be closed down unless it passes an environmental audit. The warning came Monday during a meeting in Sevilla between the regional government’s environment chief, Fuensanta Coves, and Cepsa officials. Before the meeting Sra Coves had stated that it was vital that something be done about conditions at the plant, “as practically every weekend we have an accident.”
The company has been told that its Gibraltar-San Roque refinery on the Bay of Algeciras, near Puente Mayorga, can continue to operate if it passes an exhaustive environmental audit carried out by independent experts. It also must correct all problems identified in the refinery’s systems in every accident since 2005.
Furthermore, the Junta’s Environment Department must receive before November reports showing that all the environmental audits have been completed and the necessary repairs or upgrades carried out. The amount of sulphur dioxide emitted by the plant must be limited to between 200 and 245 micrograms per cubic metre.Environmental groups, local residents and others have raised concerns that Cepsa is not being transparent in regard to accidents and the state of the refinery. Now the company has been ordered to set up a system with San Roque residents to keep them fully informed on any incidents involving contaminates being released from its chimneys or any other event which could pose health risks.


Criminal suit against Torremolinos town hall

Mayor calls opposition PSOE’s suit ‘shameful’ ploy

By Oliver McIntyre

A TORREMOLINOS COURT HAS OPENED INVESTIGATIONS INTO A CRIMINAL SUIT FILED BY THE LOCAL SOCIALIST (PSOE) PARTY AGAINST THE TOWN HALL AND SEVERAL MUNICIPAL COMPANIES, ANNOUNCED THE PSOE’S MAYORAL CANDIDATE, JUAN ORTUÑO, LAST WEEK.

In the suit, the PSOE accuses the mayor, Pedro Fernández Montes, along with his governing team and the directors of the municipal companies, of malfeasance, misappropriation of public funds, document falsification and tax fraud.
The PSOE put up a 12,000-euro deposit that the court required before it would open an investigation, said Sr Ortuña.
The PSOE’s suit describes a number of alleged irregularities. Chief amongst them is a 2004 deal in which the PSOE says the town hall ceded a building to FCC, the company that previously operated the town’s rubbish-collection service, as payment of a 6.9 million-euro debt. The PSOE says the arrangement is illegal under the Andalucía land law (LOUA), and that in 1996 the town council had made a decision to pay off the debt in annual instalments over 10 years. Other alleged irregularities involve the handling of IVA tax and debts between the town hall and municipal companies.

MAYOR RESPONDS
The mayor called the PSOE’s suit a “shameful” campaign ploy. The accusations are false and ill-informed, he said, beginning with the fact that the property given to FCC was not a municipal property at all but rather land owned by an individual who, in exchange for an increased building allowance, gave the property in question to FCC. In addition, the debt FCC forgave the town hall in exchange was not 6.9 million euros but 12 million euros, and the 10-year payment plan was never an option because FCC rejected it. The mayor said all of the allegations were patently false and accused the PSOE of trying “to achieve through scandal what they can’t achieve at the polls.”


Benalmádena billboard wars

By Olive McIntyre

BENALMÁDENA POLITICS BECAME A BATTLE OF THE BILLBOARDS LAST WEEK AS THE TOWN HALL WAS ORDERED TO TAKE DOWN ADVERTISEMENTS CONSIDERED PARTISAN PLUGS FOR THE RULING GIB-BOLÍN PARTY WHILE AN OPPOSITION PARTY CRIED FOUL OVER THE TOWN HALL MAKING IT REMOVE SOME OF ITS CAMPAIGN HOARDINGS.

The official Elections Board ordered the town hall to remove six billboards publicising the town’s soon-to-be-completed CHARE hospital, which bear the slogan: “The best hospital for Benalmádena. Municipal investment: 18 million euros.” The Elections Board ruled in favour of the opposition Izquierda Unida and Socialist (PSOE) parties, which had objected to the billboards “ostentatious use of an inauguration by the municipal government in order to influence voters.” The opposition groups highlighted the fact that some of the signs were placed right next to GIB-Bolín campaign signs, which “coincidentally have the same background colour.”
The town hall said it respects the ruling but may file an appeal. It defended the legitimacy of the hospital billboards, saying they were part of a wider campaign to inform citizens about the town hall’s activities. They went up at the beginning of March, along with others about water conservation, the municipal racket club and various other projects or issues.

‘POLITICAL PERSECUTION’
Meanwhile, Jesús Fortes, who is running for mayor at the head of his newly created independent Iniciativa Democrática por Benalmádena party, accused the town hall of political persecution for ordering the IDB to remove four campaign billboards, saying they didn’t have the proper licences. The town hall denied any deliberate campaign against Sr Fortes or his party, saying the four advertisements were “in public green zones.”


Málaga company offers private lie-detector tests

NEWS Staff Reporter

Málaga businesses and individuals looking to test someone’s truthfulness now have somewhere to turn. A new company, Omnis, has been launched in the city to offer lie-detector tests to anyone willing to pay the price of 700 euros. The service is aimed at companies wanting to use the polygraph testing as part of their screening process for job applicants, as well as at individuals looking to settle domestic disputes or other private matters, according to Omnis’s management. “The use of polygraph in the work environment and private sphere is very widespread in countries like the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Belgium,” says the company. The technique is used in some 90 countries throughout the world, it says.
Typical clients include transport companies, jewellers, security services and other businesses that require rigorous screening of potential employees. The company says it also gets requests from individuals hiring domestic help. The roughly two-hour test is used to confirm résumé details and detect things like drug use, gambling problems or a criminal history.
In the personal realm the polygraph might be used to clear up suspicions of infidelity or to monitor a child’s activities – such as drug use or other problematic behaviours – says the company. It can also help clarify contradictory versions of events in domestic abuse cases. Omnis, which has a staff of five, believes that people’s need to know the truth will make polygraph testing a booming business – it already has plans to expand its operations to Madrid and Barcelona.


Alhaurín 'sleepwalkers' to have fun

Programme shows youngsters there are alternatives to drink and disco nightlife

By Oliver McIntyre

THE YOUTH DEPARTMENT AT ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE TOWN HALL IS LAUNCHING A NEW EDITION OF ITS SONÁMBULOS (SLEEPWALKERS) PROGRAMME, AIMED AT OFFERING THE TOWN’S YOUNG PEOPLE A SERIES OF FUN AND HEALTHY NIGHTLIFE ALTERNATIVES.

For the next three weekends, beginning tomorrow, the programme will offer workshops, competitions and activities at the Casa de la Juventud, the municipal sports centre and other municipal facilities, as well as out in the streets. The activities run from 23.00 to 03.00 on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 20.00 to 22.30 on Sundays.
Friday workshops will include capoeira (a Brazilian martial art and ‘fight-dance’), jewellery making and salsa dancing. On Saturdays there will be belly dancing, DJing, henna tattoos and pottery. On Sundays the workshops will include drum making and clothing and shoe decorating.
The programme includes organised competitions as well as free-play opportunities in a variety of sports and games including ping pong, foosball, indoor soccer, chess, trivial pursuit, pool, video games and many more. Also planned are night-time hiking excursions and exhibitions ranging from capoeira to graffiti art to breakdancing. Activities have limited space so the town hall recommends that those interested sign up early at the Casa de la Juventud. In addition, the Youth Department is interested in hearing from anyone who might like to supervise or lead activities. Their phone number is 95 241 5254.


Nerja swimming pool prepares for opening

By Dave Jamieson

Enrolment for use of Nerja’s new indoor swimming pool and sports complex is expected to begin today. The long wait to take advantage of the new sports facility ended this week when it was announced that work to reroute a power cable had finished.
Sports councillor Rafael Rivas said on Monday that the cable, which previously hung over the building between two pylons, was now running underground. The project to move the cable had been fraught with difficulties, he said, but now it was complete, the pool was almost ready to open to the public.Swimmers will be able to choose one of three types of membership to use the pool in the complex which stands adjacent to the town’s López Cuenca outdoor sports stadium. The 2.9-million-euro construction project began in 2003 and the new building also includes an indoor sports arena for volleyball, basketball and indoor football with tiered seating for 600 spectators, as well as a 25-metre heated pool. It was announced in February that the facility would open that month, but further delays have meant that season ticket sales have had to be postponed until this week.


City and bay zone deserted during Delphi strike

By David Eade
THE CITY OF CÁDIZ AND THE BAY ZONE WERE DESERTED ON WEDNESDAY AS THE GENERAL STRIKE CALLED BY THE UNIONS IN PROTEST AT THE DELPHI AUTO-PARTS FACTORIES CLOSURE IN PUERTO REAL WAS WIDELY OBSERVED.
The streets of the towns were largely empty and the Bahía Sur and El Corte Inglés commercial centres were closed in the morning.
Trade unions had called on 300,000 workers in 14 municipalities to take action and they say that support for the strike was 100 per cent. Major industries in the zone disapproved of the closedown saying it would have a negative effect on investment. Pickets were out in force but the day passed without any major incidents and all public transport services were halted. Only some people in small and medium sized businesses worked as usual.GOVERNMENT TO QUESTION
LEGALITY OF CLOSURE
As the strike took hold the Spanish premier, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, spoke his first words on the conflict in public. Meeting members of parliament from Cádiz, in the state parliament building, he promised that his government would not fail the workers although he admitted the problem was a serious one. He has ordered the state legal department to look into the legality of the closure by the US multi-national that could leave over 4,000 people without work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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