Europol announces 142 arrests of online fraudsters

Europol announces 142 arrests of online fraudsters
Europol announces 142 arrests of online fraudsters. Image: CeltStudio/

Europol has announced that judicial and law enforcement authorities in Europe, Australia, the United States, Ukraine, and Canada have closed down a website which allowed fraudsters to impersonate trusted corporations or contacts in order to gain access to sensitive information from victims. 

This type of cybercrime is known as ‘spoofing’ and it is estimated that the website in question has caused a worldwide loss in excess of £100m (115 million EUR). 

The campaign to track down this crime was led by police in the United Kingdom, and was supported by Europol and Eurojust. It has led to the arrest of 142 suspects, including the main administrator of the website. 

In a statement, London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley explained that the “exploitation of technology by organised criminals” represents one of the greatest challenges facing law enforcement in the 21st century. However, he stressed that the Met police work with national and international partners to establish new means of investigating fraud and have been targeting the criminals who are at the “centre of illicit websites that cause misery to thousands.”  

Europol’s Executive Director Ms Catherine De Bolle also commented on the investigation, saying that these arrests had “sent a message to cybercriminals that they can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity”. De Bolle also stressed the importance of international collaboration in being able to identify and arrest criminals involved in online fraud. 

The particular case in question related to a website on which people could pay anonymously in order to use a service from which they could make spoofed calls, send recorded messages, and intercept one-time passwords. It also allowed users to impersonate entities such as banks, retail companies and government institutions.

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