A joint law enforcement operation coordinated by the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), the Italian National Police (Polizia di Stato), Europol and Eurojust has resulted in the arrest of over 100 members of an organized crime group linked to the Italian Mafia involved in online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and property crime.
According to Europol, authorities made 106 arrests, mainly in Spain and Italy, conducted 16 house searches and froze 118 bank accounts.
The suspects defrauded hundreds of victims through phishing attacks, SIM swapping, and BEC (business email compromise) schemes, and used a wide network of money mules and shell companies to launder the stolen money.
Last year alone, the illegal profit is estimated at about €10 million, Europol said.
Organized in a pyramid structure, a crime group included computer experts, who created the phishing domains and carried out the cyber fraud, as well as recruiters and organizers of the money muling, money laundering experts and experts in cryptocurrencies.
“Located in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), the suspects tricked their victims, mainly Italian nationals, into sending large sums to bank accounts controlled by the criminal network,” Europol said in a press release.
During arrests, the police seized electronic devices, 224 credit cards, SIM cards and point-of-sale terminals.