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On September 20th, 2021, Europol (European Union’s law enforcement agency) declared that they had arrested 106 criminals and confiscated their assets over engagement in several cybercrimes.

These arrests were conducted in Italy and Spain. Most of the criminals are Italian nationals, and some of them even have connections with the Mafia.

Europol official Twitter account also released a video showing the authorities raiding the houses and arresting the suspects:

The joint operation saw Italian Polizia di Stato (Italian national police), The Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), and Eurojust participating.

These arrests happened due to an investigation into the crime group, which revealed the Italian Mafia’s involvement in cybercrime, money laundering, drug trafficking, and crimes related to property.

According to a Europol press release, the suspects attempted various cybercrimes by scamming hundreds of victims. These scams included phishing techniquesSIM Swapping, and BEC (business email compromise.) They took money from victims and laundered it via various shell companies. In 2020, their unlawful profit stood at €10 million ($12,000,000 – £8,588,006).

The Europol authorities searched for 16 hours in Spain and Italy. They managed to confiscate 224 credit cards, 118 bank accounts, SIM cards, point-of-sale terminals, and marijuana plantation equipment.

According to their press release:

This large criminal network was very well organized in a pyramid structure, which included different specialized areas and roles. Among the members of the criminal group were computer experts, who created the phishing domains and carried out the cyber fraud; recruiters and organizers of the money muling; and money laundering experts, including experts in cryptocurrencies

Business Email Compromise

In BEC scams, cybercriminals target businesses or workers involved in finance and make frequent wire transfer payments.

The cybercriminals try to acquire the email addresses of these workers, imitate as a business partner, and carry out false requests for checks.

SIM Swapping

An identity theft crime where an attacker fraudulently gains access to a new SIM card by convincing the telecom service provider’s customer support service to be the original phone number buyer. You can read in detail about this multi-million dollar scam in our SIM Swapping article.