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Monday, June 26, 2017

International cooperation leads to arrest of 73 cyber-criminals

Fraudsters are relentless and ever more sophisticated in their attacks on the world’s financial networks. However, security experts are also relentless and ever more sophisticated in their work to protect our systems. And law enforcement agencies are coordinating efforts to capture the criminals bent on profiting through cyber-crime.

Last week, the Merchant Risk Council reported that 26 countries participated in eCommerce Action 2017 (eComm 2017). The Europol European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) coordinated this second annual coordinated action, which apprehended 73 fraudsters and members of Internet-based criminal networks for alleged online fraud activities. Arrests took place from June 6 through 16; suspects “were responsible for more than 20,000 fraudulent transactions with compromised credit cards, an estimated value exceeding EUR 5 million,” the EC3 stated.

The EC3 provided analytical services to authorities in the following participating countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They received support and operational information from Canada, USA, Colombia, Iceland and Georgia. Payment card schemes, banks, logistic companies and ecommerce merchants worldwide worked with law enforcement, as well.

“Hundreds of packages from online shops were intercepted and more than 100 locations were searched, using information that had been previously submitted by eMerchant, payment and logistic companies,” the EC3 stated. “The house searches led to the seizures of high-value goods, including electronic appliances, smartphones, tablets, watches and clothing. The joint analysis method revealed criminal hot spots and organised criminal groups that attempted to bypass the various security measures of merchants and financial institutions.”

It came as no surprise that a number of suspects were found to have also been involved identity fraud, phishing, cyber-attacks, romance fraud, illegal use of stolen passports, illegal immigration and money laundering. Along with these activities, payment card fraud against online shops is considered as a high-profit, low-risk criminal activity. It causes losses in excess of 1 billion euros annually in the European sector. Investigative measures are complex due to the virtual and international dimension of this crime.

Significant impact on organized crime

“Around 200 websites and social media accounts were used to broker fraudulently purchased electronic goods,” the MRC noted. “The requests to have them taken down were sent to the hosting companies. Some of these criminally used social media platforms had more than 10,000 followers each. It is suspected that the followers formed potential customer bases for these organised crime groups. Taking down these accounts has a significant collaborative impact on the industry.”

Steven Wilson, head of Europol’s EC3, noted, “With the exchange of information and joint analysis work before the eComm 2017, law enforcement was able to find organised crime groups that have a significant negative impact on the security of Europe. By disrupting the activities of these groups, Europol and its partners are creating a more secure Europe for its citizens and businesses.” Una Dillon, Managing Director of the MRC stated: “It is critical for private sector companies, such as the MRC’s merchant members, to work together with public sector law enforcement bodies to counteract the continuing growth in retail payment fraud.

“The cooperation and collaboration between Europol’s EC3 and eCommerce merchants across Europe has shown how working together and sharing relevant intelligence can make a huge difference and can stop crime. The number of relevant arrests on this occasion is exceptional and a victory to those involved. The MRC will continue to support Europol on this important initiative.”

The eComm 2016 initiative was conducted by 10 European countries in October 2016. During that action, police had found an organized crime group and, over the past eight months, conducted investigations into the group´s activities. This led to the 76 arrests last week.

For additional details, see www.greensheet.com/newswire.php?flag=display_story&id=45328&search_string=73&search_string2= end of article

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