The Spanish National Police and US Secret Service have dismantled an international cybercrime network based in Madrid made up of nine members who stole more than €5,000,000 from North American individuals and companies.

The cybercrime gang specializes in online scams, using social engineering, phishing and smishing to collect sensitive victim details and then use that information to commit financial fraud.

The organization maintained over a hundred bank accounts in various Spanish banks, using them to deposit their proceeds of crime, withdraw cash from ATMs, send it to international accounts, or convert it to crypto- cash.

Following the joint law enforcement operation, police arrested eight people in Spain and one in Miami, US. In addition to the arrests, police seized luxury items worth €200,000 and froze assets worth more than €500,000.

Social engineering attacks

Cybercriminals contacted individuals and businesses in North America via phishing emails and text messages. They tracked calls using a spoofed number to make it look like the caller was a legitimate entity.

The criminals aimed to trick victims into revealing their confidential information, allowing them to make online purchases or transfer funds directly from the victim’s bank accounts to their own in Spain.

The police announcement says the scammers stole nearly €5,000,000 from 200 individuals and businesses in just one year. However, there are indications that the total amount stolen could exceed €7,000,000.

The main suspect used an array of false identity documents to control more than a hundred bank accounts where the stolen funds were deposited. These accounts were opened under the names of other people, some collaborating directly with the criminal network, while others were unsuspecting victims themselves.

The cybercriminals then used the profits to travel across Europe and the United States, acquire luxury items and open additional bank accounts to aid in money laundering.

“The operation allowed the complete disarticulation of the criminal organization, with the arrest of all its members – eight in Madrid and one in Miami – and the seizure of many valuable objects.

On the other hand, agents also blocked 74 bank accounts, freezing assets for more than 500,000 euros.

At the registered address, they located an area where they stored the goods acquired fraudulently or with the funds of the scams, so that it looked like a luxury goods store.” – spanish font.

According to Spanish authorities, cybercrime is on the rise in the country, with one in five crimes now taking place online.

In 2022, the police recorded 375,500 cybercrime cases in Spain, an increase of 72% compared to 2019 and 352% compared to 2015.

According to the police, a clear sign of fraud is when the caller puts the victim on hold each time he provides the requested information, as he uses this information to make real-time money transfers while talking to the victim.

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