The Cypriot Police with the support of Europol, the US Secret Service and the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, have disrupted an organised criminal group that affected more than 130 000 payment card holders from 29 countries. Financial losses, including those for EU citizens, totalled EUR 8 million. Four members of the criminal organisation, including the leader, were identified and arrested during a police raid in Belarus. The first court proceeding in this case has led to a sentence of up to 7 years of imprisonment.
The internet-based criminal organisation has been responsible for compromising credit card information using computer technologies and malware. The criminal network established several fake on-line shops and a shell software company in order to make illicit credit card transactions. Criminals connected to a legitimate online payment service and pretended to process multiple international transactions. They then transferred all the assets to a bank account in Cyprus. Due to many low-value transactions linked with internet services, the criminals were able to operate without detection for several months.
The role of Europol was to assist respective law enforcement authorities with operational meetings hosted in The Hague. Europol also assisted with information analysis and the collection of statements from victims. The crucial role of law enforcement in Cyprus, who investigated the delicate aspect of the cyber fraud activities, should be highlighted as well.
Steven Wilson, Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) noted: “This case demonstrates the continued evolution of established cybercrime trends. The threat from cyber fraud has continued to grow and expand into a variety of sectors. Europol has also seen the development of malware targeting the ATM network and payment processors, impacting cash services worldwide. This case shows that global cooperation by law enforcement authorities against major cybercriminal syndicates can be successful.”