Twenty-three arrested for Covid business email fraud

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A sophisticated fraud scheme using compromised emails and advance-payment fraud has been uncovered by authorities in Romania, the Netherlands and Ireland as part of an action coordinated by Europol

On August 10, 23 suspects were charged as a result of a series of raids carried out simultaneously in the Netherlands, Romania and Ireland. In total, 34 places were searched. These criminals are believed to have defrauded companies in at least 20 countries of approximately €1 million.

The fraud was run by an organised crime group which prior to the Covid-19 pandemic already illegally offered other fictitious products for sale online, such as wooden pellets. Last year the criminals changed their modus operandi and started offering protective materials after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This criminal group, composed of nationals from different African countries residing in Europe, created fake email addresses and webpages similar to the ones belonging to legitimate wholesale companies. Impersonating these companies, these criminals would then trick the victims, mainly European and Asian companies, into placing orders with them, requesting the payments in advance in order for the goods to be sent.

However, the delivery of the goods never took place, and the proceeds were laundered through Romanian bank accounts controlled by the criminals before being withdrawn at ATMs.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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