Europol's Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), initially set up on 1 September 2014 to strengthen the fight against cyber-crime for a period of six months, is to continue operations following its success.
Hosted at the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol, the J-CAT is composed of cyber-liaison officers from EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the UK), non-EU law enforcement partners (Australia, Canada, Colombia and the US) and EC3. All are located in one single office to ensure that they can communicate with each other in the most effective way, and all participating countries and agencies have agreed to continue with this cooperation model.
Work entails pro-active intelligence-led coordinated actions against key cybercrime threats and top targets such as high-tech crimes, crime facilitation, online fraud and various aspects of online child sexual exploitation. One of J-CAT's biggest anti-cyber-crime operations to date is Operation Onymous (November 2014) which resulted in more than 410 hidden services being taken down from the Darknet, the seizure of bitcoins worth approximately US$ 1 million (£634K) in cash, plus drugs, gold and silver.
Wil van Gemert, deputy director of Europol commented: "This will ensure continuity of the J-CAT, alignment with other strands of work and integration within the policy framework and existing structures for European cyber-crime investigations".
Andy Archibald from the UK's National Cybercrime Unit, the agency leading J-CAT, adds: "These modern, professional, internationally-operating cyber-criminals ask for strong cross-border law enforcement coordination and cooperation, and the J-CAT delivers exactly that".
Last week, Operation Triangle led to the dismantling of a group of cyber-criminals active in Belgium, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Georgia, suspected of committing financial fraud involving email account intrusions worth €6 million (£4.3 million). A total of 49 suspects were arrested, 58 properties were searched and numerous pieces of evidence, credit cards and cash were seized.
J-CAT says it intends to extend its cooperation with other partners from law enforcement, judicial authorities - in particular Eurojust - and key partners from the private sector.