Algeria arrests scammers after students tricked out of thousands of euros
Algerian authorities have announced the arrest of a criminal gang who scammed university students in the country out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The National Directorate of State Security said in a statement on Saturday that 75 Algerian students had been cheated out of money by the gang, who had set up a fake education consultancy.
The consultancy offered to register students at universities in Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia and pay for their tuition and accommodation for a year, in exchange for a sum of 20,000 euros (US$22,830).
However, when they arrived in those countries, they found that their university fees were only covered for three months and that they had only been provided accommodation for two nights at a hotel.
The gang, who reportedly included the son of an Algerian parliamentarian, had recruited social media influencers to advertise their scam.
After knowledge of the scam became public a few weeks ago, the influencers disassociated themselves from the company and apologized to the students for their part in the scam, with some offering to help repair the damage.
Algerian authorities said that there were three main figures behind the scam and that they had coordinated their operation with parties in Turkey, Ukraine and Russia.
"The members of the criminal gang resorted to a trick to scam a great number of victims, which was to change the name of their fake company several times," the National Directorate of State Security's statement said.
"This fake company set up headquarters in a number of [Algerian] provinces, such as Algiers, Annaba in eastern Algeria and Oran in the west of the country, as well as abroad."
Among the names used by the fake company were Future Gate, Svit-Osviti, and Inside.com, according to the statement.