Head of €18m online fraud gang and 14 members arrested in six year pan-European operation

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15 suspected members of a network responsible for online fraud causing €18 million losses, including the head of a criminal organisation, have been arrested in a huge six-year pan-European operation

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15 suspected members of a network responsible for online fraud causing €18 million losses, including the head of a criminal organisation, have been arrested in a huge operation by the German Prosecutor’s Office of Dresden, the Saxon State Office of Criminal Investigation the Lithuanian Police and the Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office.

 

Since 2012 more than 35,000 cases of online fraud had been detected. Fraudulently obtained credit card data was used to purchase high-quality goods from various mail order companies through a network of merchandise agents.  ‘Package mules’ receive the illegally obtained goods,mostly in Germany, then sent the packages to new addresses, primarily in Eastern Europe.

 

All the perpetrators hid their own identities using codenames and encrypted access in the network. Settling payments was carried out with the help of cryptocurrencies. Other criminals provided IT infrastructure, recruited package mules, and coordinated criminal activity including laundering money.

Operation Warenagent has taken six years of preparation and coordination. The operation was conducted by the German Prosecutor’s Office of Dresden, the Saxon State Office of Criminal Investigation, the Lithuanian Police and the Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office, with help from Europol and Eurojust at the international level. The Department of Organised Crime together with the Cybercrime Competence Center Sachsen (SN4C) and judicial assistance from Lithuania met in The Hague to form a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with the support of Europol and Eurojust.

 

Five coordination meetings at Eurojust, alongside frequent information exchange and analysis by Europol, led the investigators to identify and locate the key target in Cyprus.

 

During June  31 house searches were carried out in Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. On the action days the head of a criminal organisation was detained in Cyprus, alongside four criminals in Latvia and Finland respectively, two in the United Kingdom, and one each in Estonia, Lithuania, Switzerland and Ukraine. Over the course of the investigation itself, four individuals were detained in Germany.

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