The Spanish National Police has taken down a sophisticated cybercriminal organization responsible for a variety of computer scams targeting over four million individuals.
In a major operation spanning cities such as Madrid, Malaga, Huelva, Alicante, and Murcia, law enforcement arrested 34 members of this criminal group and conducted 16 targeted searches. The police raids resulted in the seizure of firearms, luxury cars, €80,000 in cash, and computer systems hosting a vast database containing personal information of four million people. The arrested individuals were involved in a range of scams, including email and SMS phishing impersonating delivery services and power suppliers. Moreover, they resorted to emotional manipulation, conducting ‘son in distress’ calls to deceive parents into sending money.
The cybercriminals’ modus operandi demonstrated a high degree of versatility, making it challenging to predict their next move. The investigation into this particular group commenced in early 2023 after numerous complaints detailing a recurring pattern of deception were submitted. The criminals targeted databases of financial and credit institutions, not only stealing customer data but also using their access to credit funds in customer accounts.
Subsequently, they contacted these clients, falsely claiming that they received loans due to computer errors and instructing them to repay following specific steps. Victims were redirected to phishing sites that mimicked their banks, where they unwittingly entered sensitive information, which the scammers used to exploit them further. The criminals primarily profited by selling stolen data to other cybercriminals, amassing an estimated €3,000,000 ($3.2 million).
To obscure the money trail, high-ranking members of the threat group funneled their profits into cryptocurrency investment platforms. Although the leaders of this cybercrime ring are already apprehended, efforts to identify additional culprits and victims will continue in the coming months. This operation highlights the importance of law enforcement’s response to increasingly sophisticated and diverse cyber threats, while also underscoring the need for public awareness regarding cybersecurity practices and vigilance against scams.