Europol Busts A Major Crime Ring more Than 100 Online Fraudsters Arrested
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Europol busts a major crime ring arresting more than 100 online fraudsters. The law enforcement agencies in Italy and Spain were successful in demolishing an organized crime group with links to the Italian Mafia. The group was involved in online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, and property crime, managing to gain €10 million ($11.7 million) in illegal proceeds in just a year. It operated out of Tenerife, located in Spain’s Canary Islands.

According to Europol, “The suspects defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks and other types of online fraud such as SIM swapping and business email compromise before laundering the money through a wide network of money mules and shell companies.”

The action was taken after carrying out several sting operations, around 16 house searches. Leading to 106 arrests, most in Spain and Italy. Around 224 credit cards, electronic devices, SIM cards, POS terminals, marijuana plantation, and equipment used for its cultivation and distribution were also seized and 118 bank accounts have also been frozen.

The crime ring operated in a pyramid style where each member was roped in for specialized roles. This included computer experts, who created phishing domains and facilitated cyber fraud. Other includes in the group were recruits involved in money muling activities and experts specialized in cryptocurrencies and money laundering.

Most of the gang members arrested are Italian nationals with links to mafia cartels. They lured victims into transferring large amounts of money to bank accounts under their control. The profits acquired illicitly were laundered via a wide network of mules and shell companies.

The operation was carried out jointly by the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), with the support of the Italian National Police (Polizia di Stato), Europol, and Eurojust.

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