Europol Breaks Open Extensive Mafia Cybercrime Ring
International law enforcement efforts have led to the takedown of an extensive cybercrime operation run by a gang with ties to the Italian Mafia. According to Europol, the gang utilized violence and intimidation as tactics and collected $12 million in online fraud profits. The group used phishing attacks to defraud hundreds of victims, convincing them to wire money to bank accounts controlled by the crime ring by deploying various lures. The victims were mostly Italian nationals but Spanish, English, German, and Irish nationals were targeted as well. The phishing and vishing attacks combined with the use of social engineering techniques were able to take possession of the home banking credentials of some victims, arranging bank transfers for thousands of Euros.
The gang also engaged in online fraud such as SIM swapping and business email compromise, according to Europol. In all of the uncovered cases, the attackers carefully laundered the money through a wide network of mules and shell companies. The stolen funds were later used to purchase cryptocurrency or re-invested in other criminal activities such as drug production, trafficking, arms trafficking, and prostitution, according to the Italian Polizia di Stato. The Spanish National Police, alongside the Polizia di Stato, Europol, and Eurojust, made 106 arrests in Spain and Italy in connection with the crime ring.