Spain’s national police have busted a cybercrime organization that used fake investment sites to defraud more than 12.3 million euros ($12.8 million) from 300 victims across Europe.

The malicious campaigns involved the creation of fake cryptocurrency investment sites with a similar appearance to well-known legitimate platforms.

The threat actors then laundered the money stolen from the victims by moving it from Spanish banks to foreign financial entities where the criminals hoped it was safe from scrutiny or the ability to trace authorities.

The Spanish law enforcement investigation was opened after the legal representative of one of the impersonated financial groups reported the matter to the police.

During the operation, six members of the cybercrime organization were arrested in Madrid and Barcelona and will face charges of alleged fraud, money laundering and usurpation of civil status.

Scam process

The cybercriminals created a network of fake banking websites that used the technique of typosquatting, which involves registering domains similar to the official sites of real, imitated banks.

By changing a character or swapping the position of two letters, domains can still appear authentic to careless visitors.

Typically, victims end up on these sites by following links embedded in phishing emails, which is how the dismantled Spanish gang also drove traffic to its sites.

While the victims of the group of threats hail from several countries in Europe, most of the fake websites targeted French people and therefore posed as French financial institutions.

The victims were made to believe that they were investing money on these websites, but in reality, their deposits were sent directly to the bank accounts of the criminal group.

“The scam method used by the criminal group consisted in offering to any potential client, through fraudulent websites, the possibility of carrying out different financial operations, such as: contracting investment products (variable income, contracts futures and cryptocurrencies) and contract financing products.” – spanish font

The stolen funds were transferred to the crooks’ bank accounts in Spain, Portugal, Poland and France and then transferred to foreign entities as part of a money laundering effort. After bouncing back to hide the money trail, the funds were eventually returned to Spanish accounts.

The police investigation determined that the total amount of money sent to the criminal group’s final destination was €12,345,731.


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