National Police arrest 64 members of international criminal gang that scammed €4m in Spain

National Police arrest 64 members of international criminal gang that scammed €4m in Spain

National Police arresting suspect. Credit: Twitter@policia

64 members of an international criminal gang that scammed €4m in Spain were arrested by the National Police, 28 of them in Palma, Mallorca.

As reported in a statement from the National Police on Thursday, March 9, the force has broken up an international criminal organisation that defrauded companies of more than €4million. In total there are 64 detainees – 28 of them in Palma Mallorca.
They were detained on suspicion of the crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, fraud, money laundering, and computer access. Other arrests took place in Ibiza, Madrid, Valencia, Segovia, ArandaDelDuero, SanSebastina, Zaragoza, and Tenerife.

They committed their scams through the modus operandi known as BEC – Business Email Compromise – whose objective was the members of the administrative departments and the executive directors of companies. The attacks originated from Nigeria, the country where they sent the fraudulently obtained money.

The investigation was launched was carried out by specialised officers who are experts in the fight against cybercrime. They quickly discovered an extensive network of bank mules in Spain whose task was to receive illegal money transfers. After their detention, the heads of the organisation in Spain – made up of three individuals – have already been made available to the National Court .

Thanks to the diligent work carried out by the investigators, more than €600,000 were blocked preventively. The gang committed the scams after accessing corporate emails using social engineering techniques and focused on obtaining confidential information from companies, their client portfolio, or economic transactions pending payment.

Immediately afterwards, through highly personalised email attacks, they usurped the corporate identity of these companies, with which they had commercial agreements. The gang obtained the payment of invoices and transactions of large sums of money to bank accounts that the organisation had under its control.

The investigation began as a result of a complaint from a Spanish company which had been defrauded of more than $320,000 for a transfer not received corresponding to services provided to a company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This transfer was made by the Congolese company but was destined for a third-party account unrelated to the commercial activity. The deception materialised when cybercriminals accessed the emails exchanged between the Spanish and Congolese companies and replaced the real payment account with that of a bank mule, where the funds were finally received.

The first results of the investigation made it possible to discover that the owner of the account receiving the fraudulent money was, in turn, the person responsible for other accounts in which funds of the same nature were received from abroad.

It was also learned that this person had denounced that he was being extorted by the leadership of the organisation. He allegedly demanded large sums of money from him to be able to pay for his activities as a banking mule.

Two of those investigated received the necessary information to initiate bank fraud, requesting a second echelon to recruit bank mules. After receiving the fruit of the fraud in their bank accounts, these mules kept two per cent of the total transfers.

The rest of the money was transferred to third-party members of the organisation in order to make it even more difficult to block the accounts. During the investigation, 79 people were investigated who made their bank accounts available to these cybercriminals. Four mobile terminals were also seized and nearly 200 bank accounts were investigated, as reported by mallorcadiario.com.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com

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