Spanish National Police have arrested two hackers, 15 members of a criminal organization and 23 others involved in illegal financial operations in Madrid and Seville for alleged bank scams.
The cybercrime operation is an email and SMS phishing campaign that is believed to have scammed more than 300,000 people and resulted in confirmed losses of at least 700,000 euros ($770,000).
“40 people were arrested, charged with the offenses of membership of a criminal organization, bank fraud, falsification of documents, identity theft and money laundering,” reads the press release. police announcement.
“The criminal organization used hacking tools and business logistics to carry out computer scams.”
SMS to card theft
The investigation by the police’s cybercrime unit revealed that members of the Trinitarios organization allegedly used stolen credit cards to purchase cryptocurrency, which was then exchanged for fiat currency in a ” common box”.
Card details were stolen from victims who received phishing text messages on their phones alleging they needed to fix a security issue with their bank accounts.
The victims followed the link provided in the text message to visit a phishing website designed to appear as a clone of the legitimate banking portal, where they entered their account credentials.
Hackers monitored captured data in real time using phishing panels, moving quickly to use stolen data to apply for loans, link new verification phone numbers to compromised accounts, and link cards to crypto wallets virtual under their control.
Police say the parallel withdrawal schemes involved hiring mules to receive the money via wire transfer, withdrawing it from ATMs and using PoS (point of sale) terminals owned by trading companies electronics online to make fake purchases.
The stolen monies were reportedly used to finance the group’s expenses, buy drugs and weapons, finance meetings, pay lawyers or send money directly to imprisoned members of the gang.
The remaining monies were sent to the Dominican Republic, where other members of the group used the money to purchase real estate.
The Spanish police are currently working with international partners to locate all stolen amounts and property derived from the crime and possibly recover stolen payments.
Cybercrime as a new source of revenue
Organized crime gangs have turned to cybercrime as a new source of revenue.
In the case of Trinitarios, Spanish police say the group used money acquired through phishing to cover its legal and operational costs.
In September 2021, a Europol coordinated police operation busted a vast network of cybercriminals linked to the Italian mafia, generating annual profits for them of more than 10 million euros ($11.7 million) through SIM card swapping and e-compromising attacks professional emails.