Gang of 31 cyber criminals arrested for stealing cars via hacking software

In a coordinated operation on October 10 throughout the three nations, 31 people were detained. A total of 22 addresses were raided, and illicit assets worth over EUR 1 098 500 were recovered. The French authorities, working with their Spanish and Latvian counterparts, busted a car theft ring that utilized counterfeit software to steal automobiles without using the actual key fob, thanks to the assistance of Europol and Eurojust.

The thieves targeted keyless cars made by two French automakers. The vehicles’ original software was replaced with a fake software that was sold as an automotive diagnostic solution, enabling the doors to be unlocked and the ignition to be turned on without the key fob itself.

The criminals targeted vehicles with keyless entry and start systems, exploiting the technology to get into the car and drive away. The creators of the software, its distributors, and the auto thieves who exploited it to steal vehicles are among those detained.

Participating in the investigation were the following authorities:

France’s National Gendarmerie and National Jurisdiction against Organized Crime (Gendarmerie Nationale), Latvia: Latvian State Police, Investigatory Court No. 2 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain Balearic Islands PPO and the French Gendarmerie’s Cybercrime Center launched the inquiry (C3N).

Since March 2022, Europol has been assisting this case with thorough investigation and the distribution of intelligence packages to all the nations impacted by this crime. To decide on the investigation’s conclusion, two operational sessions were held at the Europol headquarters. For the action day, a mobile office of Europol was also sent to France to support the French law enforcement’s investigational efforts.

The French government started the case in Eurojust in September 2022. The Agency actively enabled the combined action day as well as cross-border judicial collaboration with the concerned national authorities.