The police have dismantled an organized crime group linked to the Italian mafia. The latter allegedly defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks and other types of online fraud.
The operation, carried out jointly by the Spanish National Police, with the support of the Italian National Police (Polizia di Stato), Europol and Eurojust, resulted in 106 arrests in Spain and Italy.
A “very well organized” group
According to Europol, cybercriminals have used phishing, SIM swapping and BEC (Business Email Compromise). It is estimated that the benefits obtained in the last year alone amount to about 10 million euros.
Described as “very well organized”, the group included several cybercrime experts tasked with creating phishing domains and conducting online fraud. Others involved in the criminal network included mules and money laundering experts, including cryptocurrency experts.
Working from the Canary Islands, Spain, the criminals tricked their predominantly Italian victims into sending large sums of money to the bank accounts they controlled, before laundering the proceeds of their activities through mules and front companies.
A successful collaboration
Compromised commercial email is one of the most lucrative forms of cybercrime, costing companies billions of dollars a year, according to the FBI.
In addition to the 106 arrests, 118 bank accounts were frozen and various devices seized, including 224 credit cards, SIM cards and payment terminals (TPE).
Police investigated the group for more than a year before making the arrests. As part of this transaction, Europol deployed two analysts and a legal expert in Tenerife, Spain, and an analyst in Italy. The organization also financed the deployment of three Italian researchers in Tenerife to support the Spanish authorities during the action day.