Tuesday, November 28

Dismantled an international network that commits banking scams in a massive way through ‘phishing’


The detainees invest the money stolen from the accounts of the injured in cryptocurrencies, in order to be able to launder it without leaving a trace.

Civil Guard agents during the investigation
Civil Guard agents during the investigation.E.M.

The Civil Guard, within the framework of the Operation Chrimata, has dismantled in Alicante a network dedicated to committing bank scams at an international level and in a massive way through the method of phishing, in its modality of smishing. That is to say, invest the money stolen from the accounts of the injured in cryptocurrencies, in order to whiten it without leaving a trace. Eight people have been arrested for the alleged crimes of fraud, falsification of identity documents, money laundering and constitution of a criminal organization.

The operation, which remains open and no further arrests are ruled out, began in April 2020 after the authors carried out, for three consecutive days, a massive attack on a large number of clients of a Spanish bank through smishing to the mobile phones of the injured. They managed to defraud 600,000 euros from a total of 106 injured throughout the national territory, as reported by the Civil Guard.

The band collected the necessary data to access the accounts of the injured by sending a text message to victims impersonating their bank. Once the injured parties bite, the authors took control of their accounts from the entity’s online platform, and modified the form of access. The injured parties are all clients of the same bank, with national headquarters.

After having control of the accounts, they made massive transfers of about 5,000 euros each, from those of the injured to accounts of people used as mules, registered in online financial companies. These people transfer money of illegal origin received into their account, and in return they receive a commission.

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The investigators located up to 28 of these mules, verifying that 462,000 euros of the total money scammed were passed through their accounts to the injured. The remaining 128,000 euros were scammed with the same methodology to different businesses in Paris.

Investing in cryptocurrencies

After transferring the money to the mules’ accounts, the detainees invested it in the acquisition of virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies, thus managing, in addition to laundering the black money, to evade tracking by the investigators.

It must be borne in mind that the main characteristic of the cryptocurrency is that the source and destination data are encrypted, making it very difficult to track them. Once the virtual currencies were acquired, they were transferred to the accounts of members of the main members of the gang, who thus managed to remain anonymous.

Agents have been able to identify a complex criminal network made up of 90 people of Latvian, Russian, Czech, Kazakh, Belarusian, French, German, Cameroonian and Ukrainian nationalities. In Spain, eight people, between 40 and 59 years old and of Spanish, Romanian and Ukrainian nationalities, have been arrested in the towns of Malaga, Seville, Murcia, La Corua, Zaragoza, Gerona, Valencia and Elche. In addition, a total of 25 bank accounts have been blocked and brought to justice.

On the other hand, the competent judicial authority has been requested 43 international arrest warrants corresponding to the main members of the criminal group. The proceedings, which were made available to the Alicante Court of Instruction, have been transferred to the National Court.

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The operation has been carried out by agents belonging to the investigation area of ​​the Civil Guard Post of San Juan (Alicante), who have had the collaboration of agents of the Technical Unit of Judicial Police of the Civil Guard of Madrid, of the Units Orgnicas de Polica Judicial de Gerona, Málaga, Sevilla, Zaragoza and La Corua, as well as members of Interpol, Europol, and different police forces from Latvia, Russia, France, Kazakhstan, Germany, Canada, United States, Liechtenstein, Cameroon , Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus and United Kingdom.

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