Phishing cybercriminal network in Spain now busted

Published:  14 May at 6 PM
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An internet scam investigation which took two full years has now been concluded with the arrest of a group of phishing cybercriminals.

The investigation began when police received a large number of complaints from expats as well as Spanish nationals duped into transferring money to fund a ‘confidential financial operation’. The scam became known as the ‘CEO sting’ due to the gang’s habit of targeting high-level executives in large companies.

The crooks’ modus operandum was the same every time, involving targeting employees with an email supposedly sent by a high-level executive. The email instructed the employee to transfer large sums of money to be used in a confidential financial operation. Targeted employees would then transfer the requested sums or reveal sensitive data concerning the company’s finances.

The scam began two years ago after the perpetrators had set up over 150 bank accounts using mules and intermediaries to cover their identities and the origins of the cash. The scammers’ activities weren’t confined to Spain, but reached across many EU countries into China, Kazakhstan and Lebanon. Some 2.4 million euros were stolen from victims in many countries, and the criminal organisation’s network was spread out all over Spain.

It’s not known how many British expat businesses lost money to the scammers, nor are the Spanish police at present revealing the nationalities of the 11 crooks arrested in Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. However, it has to be said that Spain’s expat community has attracted the attention of financial scammers for years, leaving many destitute as a result.
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