More than 20 men have been arrested in Italy on suspicion of carrying out an international phishing scam.
The group - 18 Italian citizens and eight Eastern Europeans – were captured after an investigation by Italian police. Officers from the operation, dubbed “Phish & Chip”, monitored the men following a widespread phishing campaign that targeted internet users of an Italian postal operator, Poste Italiane.
The gang is accused of sending spam messages that directed users to a bogus Poste Italiane website. According to police reports, the alleged ring leader of the group, a 22-year-old man, has confessed to sending emails purporting to come from the postal operator, which directed recipients to a cloned version of the banking website.
He is believed to have used the captured login information to steal money from the users’ bank accounts and transfer the cash to pre-paid credit cards activated by members of the gang.
The Italian authorities have seized laptop computers, data backup devices, false documents, mobile phones, and materials for creating credit cards at several locations across Italy. Numerous credit cards belonging to the Banca Intesa were also confiscated, some of which are said to have been used by the gang the day before at the Casino of San Remo.
“Internet criminals can use technology to hide their identities, and it can often be a complex web for the police to untangle,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “Phishing and identity theft are global problems, and countries need to work more closely with each other to bring cyber criminals to justice. These arrests underline the growing organised nature of international identity theft gangs, but there are many other phishers still at large."