The defendant, an Ovar-born shopkeeper, is charged with four simple fraud crimes, along with two other women (sisters), who did not attend the first session of the trial.
The facts date back to August 2017, when the three women are accused of scamming at least four people, causing a loss of €2,200 by renting houses that did not belong to them for holidays in the Algarve, particularly in the areas of Quarteira, Albufeira and Vilamoura.
Faced with the panel of judges, the woman claimed to have been contacted by another defendant, married to a colleague of her boyfriend, with the aim of attracting people to rent holiday homes in the Algarve, receiving in return €100 for each rented house.
She said that at first it went well, saying that she herself went on holiday twice to the Algarve, staying in houses provided by the defendant.
According to the woman, the problems only started to appear in August, when the alleged head of the scam started to contact her saying that there were problems with the rented houses.
“She always had a different excuse. She once said there was a problem at the agency and they couldn’t get the keys,” she said.
The defendant also said that she had contacted all the customers by telephone to advise them not to go to the Algarve, because there were problems with the houses and to demand the money back and complain.
The accused even spoke of “thousands” of people being scammed. “There are many more people who have not complained. We are really talking about a lot of people. It was horrible,” she said.
According to the prosecution (MP), the three women decided to rent holiday homes in the Algarve at “inviting” prices and in “pleasant” places, through an advertisement placed on a Facebook page of one of the defendants.
According to the investigators, the photos used in the ad were obtained and copied from legitimate vacation rental sites, to more easily convince stakeholders of the seriousness of the deal.
The defendants made the reservations of the houses by paying an amount by bank transfer, but when they arrived at the place, the found that no reservation had been made and the place in question was not and never was available for occupancy.