Interpol arrests more than 1,000 criminals worldwide in cybercrime operation

The International Criminal Police Organization has arrested more than 1,000 criminals worldwide after a large-scale operation against cybercrime. In addition, almost 24 million euros were intercepted and more than 2,300 bank accounts were frozen.

Interpol was active in twenty countries, including countries in Europe, during the four-month operation ‘HAEICHI-II’, the international police organization said. The arrested criminals are suspected of various online crimes, including money laundering, investment fraud and operating illegal online casinos. Criminals are also said to have carried out romance scams, in which victims are manipulated by what they see as potential romantic partners.

The organization managed to track down several modus operandi on which the cyber criminals managed to steal money from victims. For example, a criminal gang is said to have imitated the lawyers of a textile company from Colombia by means of ‘highly sophisticated emails’. In this way, the company was persuaded to transfer a total of more than 14 million euros to criminals. Interpol said it was able to return 94 percent of the money transferred to the company. A similar scam took place in Slovenia. In both cases, the new Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol was tested to intercept the stolen money in time.

In addition, Interpol states that criminals opportunistically use hypes in cybercrime. Netflix’s Squid Game is mentioned as an example; an app named and marketing material of the popular South Korean Netflix series was used to install trojan malware on victims. Subsequently, hackers could have the victim purchase so-called subscriptions without the user having to give permission for this. “Online scams like this evolve as quickly as the cultural trends they opportunistically exploit,” said Interpol CEO José De Gracia.

Operation HAEICHI-II is South Korea’s second initiative in collaboration with Interpol, but the first international anti-cybercrime operation within this collaboration. Members from China, Colombia, India, Ireland, Japan, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia and Spain, among others, participated in the study.