Home News Criminal Gang Internet Scam Netted Over €6 million

Criminal Gang Internet Scam Netted Over €6 million

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A criminal that allegedly scammed users from over 6 million euros online has been dismantled by police

In total, 13 individuals have been apprehended, and 11 residences in the province of Málaga have been searched, resulting in the recovery of nearly a million euros. The gang is believed to have funnelled over 2 million euros into the 60 accounts it controlled.

The gang would transfer ill-gotten funds to 60 bank accounts, having assumed the identities of 11 individuals. In Operation PAREPAL/MULERS, the Guardia Civil has arrested 13 people linked to an organisation suspected of an internet scam exceeding 6 million euros. Additionally, 11 properties in Marbella and Málaga have been searched. Approximately 100 crimes have been elucidated across different parts of the country, with an additional 30 in various European Union countries.

During the raids, 70 mobile devices, 1 tablet, 6 laptops, 1 desktop computer, 1 color printer, 85 SIM cards from different carriers, materials for fraudulent contracts, ledgers documenting the organization members’ finances, banking documentation, numerous credit cards, 7,500 euros in cash, and 6 high-end watches were seized.

The investigation commenced following a report filed at the Alcalá la Real (Jaén) Guardia Civil station, where a company claimed to have fallen victim to a “Man in the Middle” scam.

This scam involves interfering in the email communications of two companies engaged in commercial relations, monitoring the emails exchanged between them.

In this instance, the affected company reported detecting a payment of 29,000 euros for an invoice to another company. The scammers replaced the account number just as the payment was due.

Subsequent investigations revealed the account holder where the scammed money was deposited had his identity usurped. The alleged perpetrators had opened up to 13 accounts in his name, across various banks in the province of Málaga.

Further inquiry by the Guardia Civil identified 10 more individuals whose identities were stolen, as the organization had opened an additional 47 bank accounts. This brought the total to 60 accounts controlled by the criminal organization.

The accounts were opened by a first-tier group tasked with the job, physically opening bank accounts in Málaga branches. Personal documentation of victims, lost or stolen across the country, was used for account opening. They gained a financial benefit for each account they opened.

The Guardia Civil established that the organization managed to deposit over 2 million euros into the 60 accounts. Of this, 620,000 euros were transferred to foreign and domestic accounts by a second-tier of the organization. 408,000 euros were withdrawn in cash from ATMs by the third-tier members, and investigators successfully recovered 972,000 euros by freezing bank accounts.

Upon analyzing the accounts, it was determined that the organization committed frauds totaling over 6 million euros. They established connections with Spanish and foreign companies, purchasing products that were then sent to Nigeria, laundering the money from the scams.

The detainees are being charged with offenses including continuous computer fraud, participation in a criminal organization, document forgery, identity theft, and money laundering.

The Guardia Civil continues to examine the seized documentation, which may lead to more crimes being solved and further arrests.

This operation is part of the response from the Directorate General of the Guardia Civil to curb the exponential increase in cybercrime, particularly cyber fraud. The creation of the @ Teams aims to strengthen the capabilities for investigating and prosecuting cybercrime at both national and international levels.

Tips:

The Guardia Civil advises businesses to:

  • Prearrange account numbers for commercial transactions and establish an alternate contact method to verify any account changes.
  • Use secure passwords.
  • Send encrypted emails and attachments.
  • Provide cybersecurity training for employees.

For more information, contact the Jaén Peripheral Communication Office at 650512124.

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