By Deirdre Tynan • 20 September 2021 • 11:39
The Spanish National Police, supported by their Italian counterparts, have dismantled an organised crime group based in Tenerife linked to the Italian Mafia involved in online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and property crime.
The suspects defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks and other types of online fraud such as SIM swapping and business email compromise before laundering the money through a wide network of money mules and shell companies. Last year alone, the illegal profit is estimated at about €10 million.
According to Europol there were 106 arrests, mostly in Spain and some in Italy; 16 house searches; 118 bank accounts frozen. Seizures from the organised crime group also included many electronic devices, 224 credit cards, SIM cards and point-of-sale terminals, a marihuana plantation and equipment for its cultivation and distribution.
“This large criminal network was very well organised in a pyramid structure, which included different specialised areas and roles. Among the members of the criminal group were computer experts, who created the phishing domains and carried out the cyber fraud; recruiters and organisers of the money muling; and money laundering experts, including experts in cryptocurrencies. Most of the suspected members are Italian nationals, some of whom have links to mafia organisations,” Europol said in a statement on September 10.
“Located in Tenerife, the suspects tricked their victims, mainly Italian nationals, into sending large sums to bank accounts controlled by the criminal network. They then laundered the criminal proceeds through a wide network of money mules and shell companies,” it added.
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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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