Legislation enforcement businesses in Italy and Spain have dismantled an organized crime group linked to the Italian Mafia that was concerned in on-line fraud, cash laundering, drug trafficking, and property crime, netting the gang about €10 million ($11.7 million) in unlawful proceeds in only a yr.
“The suspects defrauded a whole lot of victims via phishing assaults and different forms of on-line fraud equivalent to SIM swapping and enterprise electronic mail compromise earlier than laundering the cash via a large community of cash mules and shell firms,” Europol stated in an announcement revealed at present.
The group operated out of Tenerife, positioned in Spain’s Canary Islands.
The event comes following a year-long sting operation that noticed as many as 16 home searches in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Turin, and Isernia, leading to 106 arrests — principally in Spain and Italy — and seizure of digital gadgets, 224 bank cards, SIM playing cards, point-of-sale terminals, a marijuana plantation, and gear used for its cultivation and distribution. 118 financial institution accounts have additionally been frozen because of the bust.
The felony community is alleged to have been normal as a pyramid construction, with totally different members roped in for specialised roles, together with pc consultants, who created phishing domains and facilitated cyber fraud, in addition to recruiters who have been concerned in cash muling actions, and specialists adept in cryptocurrencies and cash laundering.
The arrested members, a majority of whom are Italian nationals with hyperlinks to mafia cartels equivalent to Camorra Napolitana, Casamonica, Nuvoletta, and Sacra Corona Unita, lured their victims into transferring massive quantities of cash to financial institution accounts beneath their management. The illicitly acquired earnings have been then laundered via a large community of cash mules and shell firms.
The Italian Nationwide Police, in a separate assertion, famous that the hackers had experience within the newest technology phishing and vishing assaults and in the usage of social engineering methods, including the “stolen sums have been later recycled via the acquisition of cryptocurrency or reinvested in additional felony actions, equivalent to prostitution, drug manufacturing and trafficking, [and] arms trafficking.”
The investigation was undertaken collectively by the Spanish Nationwide Police (Policía Nacional), and supported by the Italian Nationwide Police (Polizia di Stato), Europol, and Eurojust.
“This group of criminals had managed to settle and enter totally different ranges of society: Enterprise networks, legislation corporations and banking entities, amongst others,” the Spanish Nationwide Police stated in a press launch. “This stage of settlement not solely gave the group impunity for cash laundering, but additionally for the totally different felony actions of those Mafia teams carried out in Spain.”