In Spain, eight people were arrested for fraud, forging identity documents, money laundering and creating a criminal organization, and 43 international arrest warrants have been requested by judicial authorities against key members of the international group … ►►►
According to a press report by the Guardia Civil, a network was discovered in Alicante as part of Operation Chrimata, which carried out large-scale international bank frauds using the phishing method in the form of fraud. The funds stolen from the victims’ accounts were invested in cryptocurrencies to be laundered without leaving a trace.
The operation began in April 2020 after the perpetrators carried out a massive attack on a large number of customers of a Spanish bank for three consecutive days by sending text messages (phishing text messages) to the mobile phones of the victims. They managed to steal 600,000 euros from a total of 106 victims from all over Spain.
The gang collected the data needed to gain access to the victims’ accounts by sending a text message to the victims impersonating their bank. After deceiving the victims, the perpetrators took control of their accounts on the online bank platform and changed the form of access. All the victims are clients of the same bank, which is headquartered in Spain.
After taking control of the accounts, they made huge transfers of about 5,000 euros each from the accounts of the victims to the accounts of people working as couriers and registered with online financial companies.
These people, known as money couriers, transfer money from an illegal source into their accounts and receive a commission for it. Investigators found up to 28 of these mules and found that 462,000 euros of the total amount stolen from the victims reached their accounts. The remaining 128,000 euros were defrauded by various companies in Paris (France) using similar methods and means.
After transferring the money to the messengers’ accounts, they invested it in the purchase of virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies and were able not only to launder black money, but also to evade the prosecution of investigators, because the main feature of cryptocurrency is that the data of origin and destination is encrypted, which makes tracking difficult Extremely. Once the virtual currencies were obtained, they were transferred to the accounts of the main gang members, who could remain anonymous.
The use of digital media has also made it easier for criminals to operate from anywhere, making investigative work of the police more difficult. After examining the information received, it was possible to identify a complex criminal network consisting of 90 people from Latvian, Russian, Czech, Kazakh, Belarusian, French, German, Cameroonian and Ukrainian.
In Spain, eight people aged between 40 and 59 of Spanish, Romanian and Ukrainian nationalities were arrested in the cities of Malaga, Seville, Murcia, La Coruña, Zaragoza, Girona, Valencia and Elche. In addition, a total of 25 bank accounts were frozen and made available to the courts.
In addition, 43 international arrest warrants have been requested against the most important members of the criminal organization from the responsible judicial authority. The case of the Court of Alicanta has been referred to the Spanish Supreme Court.
The Spanish operation was supported by Interpol, Europol, and various police departments from Latvia, Russia, France, Kazakhstan, Germany, Canada, the United States, Liechtenstein, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus and the United Kingdom.
The investigation is ongoing and other arrests cannot be ruled out.
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