LYON, France: An operation coordinated by INTERPOL codenamed HAECHI-II saw police arrest more than 1,000 individuals and intercept a total of nearly USD 27 million of illicit funds, underlining the global threat of cyber-enabled financial crime.
HAECHI-II is the second operation in a three-year project to tackle cyber-enabled financial crime supported by the Republic of Korea and the first that is truly global in scope, with the participation of INTERPOL member countries on every continent.
Almost a thousand suspects have been arrested in relation to these cybercrimes, of which there were 1,600 identified across 30 countries. In an official Interpol statement, it was reported that "voice phishing, romance scams, sextortion, investment fraud and money laundering associated with illegal online gambling" were the focal crimes targeted in Operation HAECHI III.
From Operation HAECHI III, investigators were able to pick up on new trends surfacing throughout the cybercrime space. Such trends indicate an increase in impersonation scams, romance frauds, sextortion, and investment frauds.
With the high level of sophistication cybercrime can achieve in our modern day, more people continue to be put at risk of falling victim to such malicious swindles. But as Interpol has shown, not everyone will be able to get away with cybercrime, which is certainly good news for the public. As investigation methods improve over time, we may even see an increasing number of solved cybercrime cases and caught criminals.
The intergovernmental organization said the coordinated exercise uncovered a number of emerging cybercrime trends, including variations of romance scams and sextortion, not to mention the use of encrypted messaging apps for promoting bogus crypto wallet schemes.
Some 2,000 cyber crime operatives, fraudsters and money launderers have been arrested, with 4,000 bank accounts frozen and $50m (£41.5m) of illicit funds seized in a two-month, worldwide operation against cyber fraud, coordinated by Interpol.
Law enforcement agencies took action against over 200,000 pieces of malicious cyber infrastructure facilitating cybercrime across the continent, including botnets, phishing, spam, and online extortion activities.
An Interpol operation to combat online fraud concluded with the arrests of 1,003 people and the interception of $27 million in illicit funds, according to the international police organization, which conducted the crackdown alongside 20 countries.
In an operation coordinated by the Interpol, enforcement agencies in more than 20 countries have arrested over 1,000 individuals and intercepted about $27 million of illicit funds as part of a crackdown on cyber-enabled financial crime.
Law enforcement agencies from around the globe have swooped down on hundreds of people suspected of committing various types of online crime, including romance scams, investment fraud and money laundering operations. The international effort led to the arrests of more than 1,000 individuals and the seizure of almost US$27 million in illicit gains.
The operation, spearheaded by Interpol and dubbed HAECHI-II, was carried out over a span of four months and involved law enforcement from 20 countries, as well as authorities from Hong Kong and Macao. The authorities were able to apprehend 1,003 individuals, close 1,660 cases and block 2,350 bank accounts linked with illicit funds gained from cybercrime, as well as identify ten new tactics utilized by cybercriminals.
"The operation intends to dismantle the infrastructure of these international cyber crime gangs in India and bring these perpetrators to justice. India's fight against transnational organised cyber crime has thus achieved a major milestone," a statement from the agency said.
In another case, law enforcement agencies in Austria and India discovered a cyber criminal gang impersonating Interpol officers. These suspected criminals persuaded victims to transfer around $159,000 through financial institutions, cryptocurrency exchanges, and online gift cards. Indian authorities stormed the call centre, confiscating four cryptocurrency wallets and other crime evidence.
The operation is the latest example of governments and law enforcement agencies around the world pushing to crack down on growing cyberthreats, from ransomware and other crimes. In May 2022, an Interpol operation dubbed Killer Bee arrested a Nigerian man for using a remote access trojan (RAT) to steal corporate credentials and reroute financial transactions.
"We're not going to be able to arrest ourselves out of this problem," Doug Witschi assistant director for cybercrime threat response and operations at Interpol, told The Register in April. "We need to work as a global community on this challenge. And Gateway is one step in that direction."
The CBI on Tuesday launched Operation Chakra in coordination with Interpol, FBI and police forces of multiple countries against cyber criminals involved in financial crimes, carrying out searches at 115 locations with police forces in multiple states, officials said.
"The operation intends to dismantle the infrastructure of these international cybercrime gangs in India and bring the perpetrators to justice. India's fight against transnational organised cybercrime has thus achieved a major milestone," a statement from the agency said.
Interpol announced last week that it had conducted raids over the past two months across 76 countries as part of its Operation First Light 2022. The effort, which spanned more than 1,700 locations and identified 3,000 suspects, aimed at targeting fraudsters who engaged in a variety of social engineering and human trafficking activities, including money mule herding and sexual slavery operations. The crackdown focused on criminals who use social media and other technologies as their main mode for finding and exploiting victims.
There have been several efforts to address cybercrime at the international level, from the Budapest Convention, first ratified in 2001, to a recent Russian-sponsored attempts to create a new treaty through the United Nations. This Russian effort, and especially the draft UN convention at the center of it, has been met with considerable backlash from the United States and many members of the European Union because of the vagueness of the proposal and the potential for the targeting of dissidents. Indeed, cybercrime laws have already been used by several authoritarian regimes to imprison and harass political opponents. The United States should continue to work with its European partners to advance the Budapest Convention as the main international cybercrime treaty. A number of important digital actors, such as the Republic of Korea, have recently signed on to the Budapest Convention, and it can be made more attractive to developing states by helping potential stakeholders understand the more technical sections of the treaty and demonstrating how the Budapest convention could benefit their own countries.
The United States should also establish direct lines of collaboration with investigators in other countries. As part of this effort, U.S. policymakers should work to determine what areas or countries could emerge as cybercrime havens in the future. Operations with these countries should be prioritized to ensure that legal mechanisms are in place and ironed out and that a culture of collaboration exists between U.S. agencies and law enforcement in the foreign country. There are several risk factors that could influence the course of cybercrime in a country, including the growth of technological adoption in the country, already existing cybercrime, weak institutions (or an unwillingness to crack down on cybercrime), high prevalence of organized crime, and a lack of economic opportunity, among others. Identifying countries of concern is vital to targeting growing cyber threats and avoiding a repeat of the situation which has unfolded in Russia over the last twenty years.
This strategy will not be a panacea for all cybercrime, or even ransomware, in the future. However, while other forms of cybercrime are undeniably bad, ransomware is far more disruptive, especially to critical infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Curbing the threat posed by ransomware would address one of the most damaging and pernicious issues in cyberspace.
Big cats, apes, reptiles and elephant tusks were just some of the discoveries made by authorities as part of an ongoing effort to squash wildlife trafficking across the globe. Police and customs officials made the announcement Wednesday, calling last month's crackdown the most widespread wildlife crime raid ever.
The rescue mission underlined the continuing trend in online trade. With the help of local authorities and wildlife experts, the operation targeted "transnational crime networks profiting from illicit activities" by concentrating on trafficking routes and crime hotspots. This is the third in a series of large-scale crackdowns. Previous operations involved fewer than 100 countries.
Since 2008, IFAW has been at the forefront of working with the world's leading online technology companies to crack down on wildlife cybercrime. We focus on reducing the possibility for wildlife traffickers to use online marketplaces and social media platforms to sell everything from trinkets like elephant ivory carvings to live animals like tiger cubs.
Since 2006, IFAW has been advocating for international legal frameworks to tackle wildlife cybercrime. In June 2007, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of the Parties (CoP), more than 170 countries agreed to a Resolution and Decision that provided a road map for governments to combat online wildlife traffickers. This success has been built on and most recently led to an amended Resolution and a new Decision to tackle wildlife crime linked to the internet at CITES CoP in August 2019.
IFAW shines a spotlight on wildlife cybercrime at high profile international forums to build awareness of the problem and empower governments and other partners to solve it. IFAW and our partners are ensuring this issue is addressed at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). IFAW has also brought this issue to the attention of the United Nations World Crime Congress, the G7, the First High Level Conference of the Americas on Illegal Wildlife Trade and many other forums. 2b1af7f3a8