Interpol arrested over 1,000 cyber criminals from 20 countries and seized $27 million

Interpol arrested over 1,000 cyber criminals from 20 countries and seized $27 million

2. December 2021 0 By Horst Buchwald

Interpol arrested over 1,000 cyber criminals from 20 countries and seized $27 million

Lyon, Dec. 2, 2021

A joint operation coordinated by Interpol resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 cyber criminals and the seizure of $27 million in illicit proceeds.

Code-named “HAECHI-II,” law enforcement agencies from 20 countries plus Hong Kong and Macau were able to close 1,660 cases and freeze 2,350 bank accounts linked to the illicit funds. Specifically, the cases involved online financial crimes such as romance fraud, investment fraud and money laundering related to illegal online gambling.

“The results of Operation HAECHI-II show that the surge in online financial crime triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating,” Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock stressed in a press statement.

The coordinated law enforcement investigation spanned a four-month period, from June 2021 to September 2021, with ten new criminal modus operandi identified.

In one instance of a sophisticated BEC scam, criminals posed as the legal representative of an unnamed Colombian textile company to illegally authorize the transfer of more than $16 million to two Chinese bank accounts. The company alerted authorities, but found it had been defrauded of more than $8 million.

A second case involved a Slovenian company that was tricked into transferring more than $800,000 to money courier accounts in China. In both cases, the money was intercepted and the stolen funds returned.

Another example of how quickly threat actors use popular trends for opportunistic purposes is the malware campaign uncovered by Interpol that exploited the hit South Korean Netflix show Squid Game to spread a Trojan that signed up victims for paid premium services without their explicit consent.

Cybersecurity firm Proofpoint uncovered another phishing attack late last month in which cybercriminal TA575 spread the Dridex malware using Squid Game lures. “The threat actor poses as a company associated with the global Netflix phenomenon and lures targets with emails asking for early access to a new season of Squid Game or to participate in casting for the television show,” researchers said.

Countries involved in HAECHI-II included Angola, Brunei, Cambodia, Colombia, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.

The arrests are part of a three-year project to combat cyber-financial crime and follow the first wave of the operation, called “HAECHI-I,” conducted between September 2020 and March 2021. As part of the investigation, which involved a subset of the countries mentioned above, 585 people were arrested and more than 1,600 bank accounts were frozen around the world. Also intercepted was $83 million in illicit funds transferred from victims to perpetrators.

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