Interpol arrests over 1,000 cybercrime suspects

Interpol coordinated the arrest of 1,003 people linked to various cybercrimes such as dating scams, investment fraud, online money laundering and illegal online gambling.

This crackdown is the result of a four-month action entitled “Operation HAEICHI-II”, which took place in twenty countries between June and September 2021.

These are Angola, Brunei, Cambodia, Colombia, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea (Rep. Of), Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.

On the financial side of the operation, the authorities also intercepted nearly $ 27,000,000 and froze 2,350 bank accounts linked to various online crimes.

As the Interpol announcement details, at least ten new criminal modus operandi have been identified in HAEICHI-II, indicative of the evolving nature of cybercrime.

International fraud

A notable example of fraud unearthed in HAEICHI-II involves a Colombian textile company deceived by BEC (Business Email Compromise) actors.

The authors posed as a legal representative of the company and demanded $ 16 million in two installments of $ 8,000,000 to be sent to two Chinese bank accounts.

Interpol’s intervention made it possible to recover 94% of this amount, thus saving the company from bankruptcy.

In another case, a Slovenian company was tricked into transferring $ 800,000 to money mule accounts in China. Interpol worked with authorities in Beijing and helped return the full amount to the victim.

Police_raid
Police raid at the home of a cybercriminal
Source: Interpol

One increasing trend that investigators noticed during HAEICHI-II was to use the “Squid Game” as a theme for malware distribution campaigns.

The actors took advantage of the popularity of the Netflix show to hide trojanized apps that were meant to be mobile games.

In effect, these applications automatically subscribe users to “premium” services and inflate their bills, while their distributors profit from affiliations.

“Online scams like those that use malicious apps evolve as quickly as the cultural trends they opportunistically exploit,” said José De Gracia, deputy director, Criminal Networks at Interpol.

“Sharing information on emerging threats is vital to the ability of law enforcement to protect victims of online financial crime. It also lets the police know that no country is alone in this fight. Operation HAECHI-II shows that we can respond successfully to this threat when we act together.

HAEICHI-I

Interpol’s previous large-scale online fraud crackdown was HAEICHI-I, spanning September 2020 to March 2021.

This operation involved 40 law enforcement officers and focused mainly on the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in 500 arrests.

The amount of money intercepted was $ 83,000,000, while authorities also identified and froze 1,600 bank accounts belonging to fraudsters.

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