Seven people, including three public officials, were arrested on Tuesday for their suspected involvement in defrauding victims of Colombia’s armed conflict, according to the authorities.
Those arrested are allegedly part of a nation-wide ring dedicated to defrauding victims who are in the process of receiving compensation for crimes committed against them during Colombia’s half-century armed conflict.
In a press release, the National Army said victims had been ripped off for a total of $10 million.
The network operates by gaining access to the Victims’ Reparation Fund database and obtaining victims’ personal information. The information was then sold to the highest bidder, reported El Colombiano newspaper.
“These people contact those in the process of seeking reparation and sometimes tell them they can help accelerate reclamation with the Victims’ Reparation Fund (…) for 10 or 20%, but there are also instances when they have assumed a victim’s identity and received all the money,” said regional prosecutions director Hernan Giraldo, according to Caracol Radio.
The investigation has been underway for more than a year and involves at least 430 tip-offs to the police.