A phishing and fraud ring that stole millions from victims after duping them into handing over usernames and passwords for their bank accounts has been broken up following an operation by Europol, the Belgian Police and the Dutch Police.
Raids that took place on June 21 2022 led to nine arrests in the Netherlands, and 24 homes being searched. Police seized cash, cryptocurrency, electronic devices, jewellery and firearms.
According to Europol, the phishing attacks resulted in a total of several million euros being stolen from victims. In addition to phishing, fraud, scams and money laundering, members of the group have also been connected with cases of drugs trafficking and possible firearms trafficking, it said.
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The victims were contacted with phishing messages sent by email, text message and mobile-messaging applications.
The messages contained phishing links to bogus versions of banking websites that tricked victims into entering their login details – providing the gang with the usernames and passwords required to steal their money.
The gang obtained the money by using money mules who transferred funds from the victims' accounts and cashed it out.
Europol supported the Belgian and Dutch police by aiding with information sharing, operational coordination, and provided analytical support for the investigation. During the operation itself, Europol provided support to investigators on the ground, along with forensics and technical expertise.
Phishing attacks targeting financial information are one of the most simple forms of cybercrime, but they're also one of the most effective, leading to losses of billions of dollars every year.