Cops nab suspected scammers who bilked $4.3m from victims
Ukrainian cops have arrested two suspects and detained 10 others for their alleged roles in a cybercrime gang that used phishing scams and phony online marketplaces to steal more than $4.3 million from over 1,000 victims across Europe.
The fraudsters created more than 100 phishing sites to obtain victims’ bank card information and access their accounts, according to Ukraine’s cyber police unit, who worked with Czech Republic law enforcement on the bust.
These sites offered various products for sale at below-market prices. But when buyers entered their bank card information to pay for the scam products, instead of getting a good deal, they got their account information stolen — and likely their accounts drained of all their money.
As part of the scam, the fraudsters also opened up two Ukrainian call centers, one in Vinnytsia and the other in Lviv, and hired operators to convince customers to make purchases. Too bad they weren’t helping defend their country rather than ripping people off.
Police say the victims come from several European countries including the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Spain, Portugal. The crooks bilked them out of more than 160 million hryvnias, or $4.36 million.
The Ukrainian police also released a video that shows the officers busting down doors to a suspect’s home and an empty call center.
In total, the law enforcement teams conducted about 30 searches of suspects’ homes and cars, as well as the two call centers, and they seized mobile phones, SIM cards, and computer equipment used in illegal activities.
The two alleged organizers of the crime gang have been charged with fraud and creating a criminal organization, and they face up to 12 years in prison. Ten other alleged gang members have been detained by the European Union, and the international law enforcement agencies say the investigation remains ongoing.
The Ukraine arrests follow another European call center scam that Europol announced in January. In this case, European cops arrested 15 suspected fraudsters and shut down a multi-country network of call centers selling fake cryptocurrency that law enforcement alleged stole upwards of hundreds of million euros from victims. ®