Those who were investigated obtained sensitive data from the victims through social engineering, phishing, and smishing techniques. Later, they telephoned the victims using the vishing technique while masking the calls using spoofing technology in order to obtain the remaining information required to make the scams a reality.
Once the money obtained through fraud was deposited into the bank accounts opened by the organization (they had opened more than 100 bank accounts), the members of the organization withdrew it from ATMs, transferred it to foreign countries using fresh transfers, or converted it into cryptocurrencies.
EUROJUST has provided assistance to the investigation, which has been critical in facilitating cooperation between the law enforcement and judicial systems of the United States of America, Panama, and Spain.
There have been nine arrests made, eight of which took place in Madrid and one of which took place in Miami. Valuable items have also been taken into custody, including luxury watches with an estimated value of 200,000 euros, and assets totaling more than 500,000 euros have been placed under investigation.
An international criminal organization that specialized in the commission of online fraud was taken down by members of the National Police and the United States Secret Service working together in a joint operation. The organization was based in Madrid. There have been nine arrests made, eight in Spain and one in Miami (USA), all of whom are of different nationalities but are suspected of being involved in a scheme to defraud American businesses and individuals. More than one hundred bank accounts were opened in Spain by the network, and in a little over a year’s time, they were able to collect close to five million euros in payments from their victims. EUROJUST has been providing assistance to the investigation, which has been critical in facilitating cooperation between the law enforcement and judicial systems of the United States of America, Panama, and Spain. The authorities have taken possession of numerous expensive items, including high-end watches with an estimated value of 200,000 euros, and they have placed a freeze on assets worth more than 500,000 euros.
The investigation was launched after a card processor filed a complaint about the fraudulent use of two of his cards, which belonged to a citizen of the United States, at an opulent retail establishment in Madrid. This led to the opening of the investigation. The cardholder claims that transactions for a total amount greater than 20,000 Euros were made while the purchase was made online but the item was collected at the location where it was originally purchased.
Even three-way calls were occasionally stopped, allowing the fraudster to communicate with both the victim and his North American financial institution at the same time in order to obtain the verification and authorization codes for the transactions he needed to carry out the operations.
As the investigation went on, the agents were able to establish who the head of the criminal organization was, as well as the primary focus of their inquiries into that individual. He was a Nicaraguan citizen who didn’t have any ties to Spain and had just moved to our country from Panama. He had a very high standard of living and had arrived here recently. The agents attested that the members of the organization had a significant capacity for transcontinental travel. They found evidence of the principal investigated’s partner and his relatives making numerous trips from the United States to various cities in Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Malaga, in order to engage in “commercial tourism.” They also noticed that they traveled to major cities in Europe, such as Amsterdam, Paris, or London, where they opened bank accounts, bought expensive jewelry and clothing, and opened bank accounts.
As a direct result of the searches that were conducted, the agents were able to seize 9 high-end watches, numerous jewels, 44 mobile phones, 4 laptops and 3 desktop computers, 3 tablets and 3 monitors. Some of the watches were valued by their respective brands at approximately 200,000 euros. In addition to that, they discovered bags filled with apparel and footwear from a variety of high-end brands, a large quantity of documentation and bank cards, a compressed air gun, and eight forged passports and other forms of identification.
Information security specialist, currently working as risk infrastructure specialist & investigator.
15 years of experience in risk and control process, security audit support, business continuity design and support, workgroup management and information security standards.