Home Tech Updates Hundreds Arrested, Millions Seized in Global INTERPOL Investigation

Hundreds Arrested, Millions Seized in Global INTERPOL Investigation

by Helen J. Wolf
0 comment

A two-month investigation by INTERPOL between March and May this year involved 76 countries and targeted organized crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.

INTERPOL says police in participating countries have raided national call centers suspected of telecommunications or scam fraud, especially phone scams, romance scams, email fraud, and related financial crimes.

Preliminary figures reached so far include the following:

1,770 locations worldwide robbed 3,000 suspects identified 2,000 operators, fraudsters, and money launderers arrested 4,000 bank accounts frozen $50 million in illegal funds intercepted

Hundreds Arrested, Millions Seized in Global INTERPOL Investigation

INTERPOL says emerging trends from the operation, dubbed Operation Firstlight 2022, include how money mule herders launder money through victims’ personal bank accounts and social media platforms to encourage human trafficking.

There has also been an increase in vishing fraud involving criminals posing as bank officials to trick victims into sharing credentials online and cybercriminals posing as INTERPOL officials to obtain money from victims who believe they are being investigated.

Rory Corcoran, director of the Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Center (IFCACC), says telecom and BEC fraud is a source of serious concern for many countries and hugely damages economies, businesses, and communities.

“The international nature of these crimes can only be successfully tackled by law enforcement agencies working together across borders, which is why INTERPOL is critical to providing police forces worldwide with a coordinated tactical response,” he says.

The head of INTERPOL’s national central office in Beijing, Duan Daqi, says the transnational and digital nature of various types of telecom and social engineering fraud remains a major challenge for local law enforcement authorities.

He says perpetrators operate from a different country or continent than their victims and continue updating their fraud programs.

“INTERPOL provides a unique platform for police cooperation to meet this challenge. Although Operation Firstlight 2022 has been completed, our collective law enforcement efforts will continue as the crimes continue,” he said.

INTERPOL says that to identify the criminal assets that should be intercepted during tactical operations, countries share information in advance via the secure global police communications network I-24/7.

This feeds INTERPOL’s Financial Crime Analysis File with data on suspects, suspicious bank accounts, illegal transactions, and means of communication such as phone numbers, email addresses, fraudulent websites, and IP addresses.

INTERPOL says Singapore police rescued a teenage victim who had been misled into pretending to be kidnapped. He sent videos of himself with fake wounds to his parents and demanded a ransom of 1.5 million euros.

A Chinese national, wanted in connection with a Ponzi fraud and estimated to have defrauded nearly 24,000 victims of €34 million, was arrested in Papua New Guinea and sent back to China via Singapore.

INTERPOL says that with the internet creating new online career prospects, companies and professionals turning to e-commerce affiliates and EShopup business opportunities are increasingly being scammed.

Singapore police have also arrested eight suspects in connection with Ponzi-style scams. Scammers allegedly offer high-paying online marketing jobs through social media and messaging systems. Victims would initially earn a small income and then have to recruit more members to earn commissions.

You may also like