Local Daily News 23rd January

The investigations of the @ Team of the Civil Guard in 2022: scams of 2.5 million on the internet

The increase in cybercrime is global and the province of Alicante does not escape a problem that increasingly affects citizens and without the criminals using any violence. The latest cybercrime report for 2021 records an increase compared to 2019, before the pandemic, of almost 90 percent of these offences in the Valencian Community: 29,508 cybercrimes, of which 10,133 correspond to Alicante. But in the latest balance of the Interior, a worrying fact is collected: in six years, computer scams have grown in Spain by 455.5%, standing at more than 250,000 infractions. In this increase, it must be taken into account that cybercriminals took advantage of working from home implemented during the pandemic to multiply their criminal activity.

The State Security Forces and Corps are increasingly trying to allocate more resources to the fight against these crimes and the Civil Guard launched the @ Teams throughout the country a little over a year ago to combat fraud on the Internet, a group whose work is complemented by that already carried out by the Technological Crimes Team (Edite). In the case of Alicante, the @ Team has six agents who work piecemeal to analyse hundreds of complaints for computer crimes that are presented every month in the province’s barracks, about fifteen every day.

Scams represent 90% of cybercrimes and the cyber guards of this specialised group of the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Civil Guard analysed some 5,500 complaints filed in the province of Alicante last year. These experts investigated scams worth two and a half million euros that were committed over the Internet and arrested 102 people.

However, the numbers continue to rise due to many hours of effort that researchers put into it. “Who puts doors on the field?”, says Corporal Javier Herrero, head of Team @” of the Civil Guard of Alicante, when assessing the continuous increase in cybercrime. Last year this group clarified some 700 cybercrimes in Alicante, a remarkable figure to which we must add several hundred more resolved by other units in the province. Despite this, cybercriminals “are always ahead” and cyber agents have to be continually training to keep up with the evolution of cybercrime.

This specialist points out that criminal organisations currently find cybercrime more profitable than other crimes such as drug trafficking: they have less risk, the investment to commit crimes is less and it is more difficult to be discovered and detained since they can act with impunity from a country located at the other end of the world.

The @ Team combines the investigation of cybercrimes with advisory work both to units of the different barracks in the province and to business associations in Alicante, since commercial associations are a highly coveted target for cybercriminals. That is why they give talks to offer advice on how companies should act to prevent being victims of these virtual “robbers” who wreak havoc on their accounts over the Internet.

Scams over the Internet through improper charges on credit cards are the cybercrime that is most committed in the province. Cybercriminals have multiple ways of accessing victims’ bank details, from acquiring information on the “dark web” to hacking a website of a company or entity and seizing private data provided by citizens who in their day contacted the victims of said computer attacks.

From this unit of the Civil Guard they recommend that citizens use “robust” passwords with a minimum of eight characters, since in just ten minutes a cybercriminal can find out the password with a “brute force program.”

In addition to fraudulent charges on cards, scams on online trading platforms between individuals are in the second echelon of cybercrime in Alicante investigated by Equipo @. Posting false advertisements, not sending the product offered on the internet or the reverse bizum, where the individual is deceived into believing that they receive the money and it is really the person who makes the payment, are some examples of these booming scams.

Torrevieja: On vacation in the middle of the January slope

Whoever wants to find a central restaurant in Torrevieja these days does not have it easy. Most likely, you will find a sign announcing the closure for a few weeks. Converted into a habit inherent to the most winter days of the year, January is already the month of vacations for the local hospitality industry.

Closed for holidays in the month of January. That is the message offered by the main access to many of the leading restaurants in the centre and the seafront of Torrevieja since the Three Kings Day. The city has 600 restaurants capable of accommodating 29,626 customers. It is the fourth city in the Valencian Community and the third in the province by number of officially registered restaurants, only surpassed by Valencia, Alicante and Benidorm and above cities such as Castellón, Elche and Orihuela. Which gives a dimension of the weight of the sector in a tourist city with more than 80% of its activity focused on the service sector.

As is logical, the decision to close until the end of this month of January or not to open the doors once a week, -which is something that is also happening more and more frequently-, can only be assumed by a small number but significant reference business in Torrevieja.

“It is something that has been going on for a long time but we are realising it more this year because the first weeks of January we have had better weather than usual. And of course, people are more on the street and have seen the closed sign,” says the president of the Association of Hospitality and Region Entrepreneurs, José Ignacio Pastor. He has just returned from Fitur, where the association he presides over has presented its traditional calendar of events that allows the local offer to be seasonally adjusted throughout the year.

January and February are historically the “quietest” months in the hospitality industry marked by this seasonality and events such as “We’re going for Tapas”, “The Sweetest Week” in February or Grastrovegabaja try to energise it in low season. Closing in January allows staff vacations to coincide, which in many cases have employees who are a couple and can reconcile in this way.

In the case of Santiago Pina, manager of the Las Cañas restaurant, that decision comes from behind: “We closed in January many years ago. Easter, summer, Christmas, and even the days after New Year and Three Kings are strong. There are many company dinners and all the clients who still come from outside between New Year and Kings”. The manager of this historical local hospitality also considers that the decision of the sector can also be framed in a change of mentality. Before, raising a closing day a week was almost anathema in the sector. It is now becoming more common “and allows more accessible and experienced staff to be more accessible”.

“It has been a very good December. In the centre of Torrevieja, with the activities scheduled by the City Council and a temperature of 24 degrees on the terraces”, explains Jorge Lalaguna, vice president of the AEHTC: “We have worked hard and well, with a historic December and closing in January offers us several advantages,” he explains.

It has been shown that it is the period of the year in which less billing is generated, and then it allows something important for the occupational health of the sector: Employees and owners consume their vacation days of accumulated overexertion at the same time without having to make bobbin lace the The rest of the year. And the owner does not assume solo opening periods either. “It gives us all the chance to rest and start again”, already with the prospect of more movement in February and especially March.

Pet stores in Alicante foresee closures due to the new Animal Welfare Law: "It's a disaster"

An uncertain future plans these days for those responsible for pet shops in the province. The reason, the new Law for the Protection and Rights of Animals that the Government is planning to approve and that would prohibit the sale of some animals, but also their possession in homes.

A still provisional list will mark which animals can be kept in the homes and which cannot. At the moment, the objective of the state norm is to control what pets there are currently and it established that birds such as parrots, lovebirds, nymphs or blackbirds could not be sold. Nor small rodents such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice or rabbits. Nor turtles and, of course, no exotic reptiles or spiders or similar invertebrates.

The bill establishes a maximum of 48 months from the entry into force of the law to prepare this list. But meanwhile and in the face of uncertainty, the sector is revolting. It will not be a list of maximums but of minimums since it will not be of prohibited animals, but of allowed animals. For example, dogs and cats will still be able to be purchased, but only through registered breeders.

In the province there are approximately 95 establishments dedicated to this sector, between shops and veterinary services at street level, according to the latest estimated data from Facpyme, which see their end with the approval of a regulation that was born with the firm intention of eradicating the abuse. From the pet shops in Alicante, they point out that “if the law goes ahead it will be a disaster” since “if the one you have cannot be sold, it will not breed either and food or cages will not be bought.”

Soledad de la Hoz, head of Piensos Félix in Denia, assures that this will also mean “the closure of small businesses”. “The big stores stopped having animals a long time ago and are now focused on other things. I don’t live just selling birds, but there is a lot of life around them,” says de la Hoz.

In all the businesses consulted they have verified a decrease in sales for what has already transcended the law. In Alcoy, Alicia Martín, manager of the Deconatura pet store, points out that this Christmas it has already suffered significant losses because many customers “weighed that the law was already in place.” “Every day the phone has rang with people asking if they can still have rabbits or hamsters,” says Martín.

In addition, traders reject the idea that selling animals in a store causes a loss in their welfare. José Juan Zambrana, owner of a pet establishment in Elche, assures that “the people who dedicate ourselves to this want the animals to be well, the situation left by the law is going to be very strange because most of us are not used to not being able to have a rabbit or a parakeet at home. They are animals that have been with us all our lives, we are not talking about protected or endangered birds”.

“We are waiting to see what is going to happen because we don’t know for sure how this situation is going to affect us,” says Zamabrana. In his establishment, Elche more than Pets, José Juan mainly sells canaries, he assures that he has had fewer sales, which has also meant a decrease in the demand for the accessories that accompany it, such as food, cage, toys, bars , etc.

“The sale of a canary does not mean a large turnover either, it is all that it entails that allows us to continue on the wheel. Those customers to whom you sell the canary and everything it needs later return to the store to buy the same thing from you “, says Zambrana.

In Deconatura the same pessimism is breathed. “Many clients have kept the holder and this Christmas instead of having sold 20 rabbits I will have sold 5 or 6”, Alicia points out. “This does not only have an impact on the animal, if I sell 20 rabbits I have 20 new customers who come here to buy feed and accessories, now I have 15 fewer customers and many stores will have to close because not only can we live by selling feed,” says Martín.

The radars of the Sant Joan tunnel, leaders in sanctions in the province, issue 98 fines every day

The two speed cameras in the Sant Joan tunnel continue to be the ones that impose the most sanctions in the province of Alicante this 2022, adding an average of 98 “hunted” drivers per day. However, in the past year a small variation was glimpsed: the direction of circulation.

During 2022, the control point located in an increasing direction on the A-70 at kilometre 4,375 -before entering the tunnel-, in the direction of Valencia, has registered a total of 20,620 sanctions, 56 per day, according to the data provided by Alicante Provincial Traffic Headquarters. The number of sanctions in this device in the direction of Valencia has increased by 33.22% compared to 2021.

And the one located at the other end but in the Alicante direction has also been the second that has collected the most sanctions throughout 2022, with a total of 15,204, there are 274 fewer than those it had in 2021. That is, 42 fines per day.

Two years ago, Traffic recorded 15,478 penalties for breaching the speed regulations at this point, which was the one that imposed the most fines in 2021.

Both radars have sanctioned 35,824 vehicles in 2022. This translates into a global of 98 fines per day. The two “hunters” of the province on interurban roads.

The data shows for two years in a row how, despite the time that both radars have been installed and that drivers are warned in advance that it is a section with speed control, there are still many who skip the 80-kilometre limitation per hour that has established Traffic in that place.

In general, in the province of Alicante there has also been a 52.74% increase in fines for speeding, going from 58,447 in 2021 to 89,274 in 2022.

From the Alicante Provincial Traffic Headquarters they have also confirmed to this newspaper that the number of active radars have increased in 2022 in reference to other years. In addition, they have warned that “speed is a key factor in road accidents, being present in 25% of fatal accidents, with higher driving speeds, the number of accidents and their severity increase exponentially.”

Other points, although with a lower record of violations for exceeding the established speed limit, have been located at kilometre 141 of the N-332, in the municipality of La Vila Joiosa, which has recorded a total of 8,766 in 2022.

It should be noted that this radar was in first place in 2020 in terms of the number of sanctions for reaching the maximum number with 10,429 complaints, that is, 28 per day.

The number of offences for positive alcohol rate in 2022 is the highest since that registered in 2018, according to data provided by Traffic. During the past year, 3,750 have been recorded, while in 2021 there were 2,005, in 2020 there were 1,219, in 2019 there were 2,900 and in 2018 there were 3,060.

The assessment of the increase of 87.03% compared to 2021 in complaints for the positive rate of breathalyser reminds the General Directorate of Traffic that “alcohol is present between 30% and 50% of fatal accidents” and they add that “there are many deaths that can be avoided if we all consume alcohol responsibly and never drive under its influence.”

Regarding the complaints for the presence of drugs in the body of the drivers, the data is positive. According to Traffic figures, a decrease of 26.30% has been detected, going from 874 in 2021 to 1,186 in 2022.

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