Police arrested in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia three men who tried to collect $24,000 from some Chilean businessmen by posing as an Arab sheik and his assistants.

According to a communique released Saturday by police, those in custody attempted to charge the businessmen $24,000 as a security for the amount they were prepared to invest, which amounted to some $12 million.

The Chilean businessmen, top executives of a gold-mining company, were seeking investments to finance the continued exploitation of their mine in Chile and had contacted a supposed multinational corporation for that purpose.

The businessmen found the e-mails of the multinational somewhat "suspicious" because they had an "unusual" address for a company of that stature, but in spite of their doubts they arranged a meeting with the head of the firm, who was apparently an Arab sheik, and his assistants.

The supposed sheik, his two assistants and an interpreter met with the businessmen last June 18 at a building in Valencia to work out the details of their proposed $12-million investment.

During the meeting, the impostors handed the Chileans a contract requiring the latter to pay $24,000 to secure the sum they were going to invest.

More suspicious than ever, the businessmen scheduled another meeting with the supposed financiers at the same place in order to close the deal.

Police kept watch on the building and the surrounding area and arrested the three men and seized their laptops along with documents related to the Chilean company and a Slovakian firm.

The accused, two of them with police records, were placed in judicial custody and charged with attempted fraud.

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