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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

Gotcha! Fraudster apprehended in Ronda
Monday, November 21, 2022 @ 7:28 PM

The Curmudgeon was in court today.  Not as the accused, nor the accuser, not even as a witness, but as interpreter. Let the grumpy guy explain.


Several months ago a friend of mine mislaid her bank card. She didn’t realise until two days later when she wanted to make a card purchase, by which time someone had used her missing card several times at different retail outlets and had “stolen” over 200 euros from her bank account.

“How can that be?” You ask. Well, the fraudster was astute enough to only make purchases below the 50€ limit at which you need to enter your PIN. At one establishment the bill came to over 50, so he split it into two payments. Wasn’t the merchant suspicious? Humph!

My friend immediately blocked her card and went to the police to make a report (denuncia). Then to her bank to reclaim the lost money (banks are insured to cover such losses, provided the victim can produce a denuncia).

It took the bank a while to process the claim, but after several weeks she eventually had the lost amount credited to her account.

In considering how this could have happened, my friend recalled that she had paid her car park charge on the Tuesday evening in question by using her card. She recalled that there was a one-legged beggar hanging around the ticket machine asking for money. Could it have been him?

No matter. She had got her money back, so she thought no more about it.

However, contrary to what we often think about the police, ie that they don’t bother investigating such incidents, they had done some digging. Not that challenging – after all, they knew from the bank at which outlets the card had been used.

Several months later my friend received a registered letter from the court, summoning her to appear as a witness at the trial of Marcelino R. for this offence.

Despite being a curmudgeon, I am more than happy to help out friends when they need linguistic support, so I attended court to interpret for my friend who is foreign and doesn’t have good Spanish.

We arrived in good time and were eventually ushered into the courtroom, where there were the court official, the usher, the judge and a police officer. No sign of the accused.

The judge was informed about the case and took some time to read the paperwork. We were then informed that the accused was not present as he was in prison for another offence.

However, after a few moments Marcelino R. appeared on a live video link. Lo and behold! It was the one-legged beggar!

He was informed about the proceedings and was asked if he had used the card, which he had found, to make purchases. He denied it (well, he would, wouldn’t he?). The court official informed him that if he did not plead guilty he would get a more severe sentence than the minimum, which was 30 days and a fine.

My friend and I were asked to approach the microphone and answer the judge’s questions. Which we did. That went smoothly and we sat down again.

Marcelino R. was asked again whether he had used the card and he confirmed that he had.

Accordingly, the judge sentenced him to 30 days plus 10€ a day. Marcelino R. asked how he was supposed to pay a fine of 300€, since he was in gaol and had no income. Bizarrely, the judge reduced the fine to 6€ a day, so 180€, which Marcelino R. still has to find somewhere.

We were thanked for our testimony and told we could leave.


My friend thought the judgement was somewhat harsh. I didn’t! Maybe Marcelino will learn, but I doubt it!


Further reading:

To read an article about beggars, click here.


Tags: accused, accuser, bank, card, claim, court, court official, curmudgeon, denuncia, fine, foreign, fraud, interpreter, judge, limit, linguistic support, Marcelino, PIN, police, police officer, purchase, report, retail outlet, usher, video link, witness 

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