Interpol Nets $300 Million, Arrests 3,500 in Major Cyber Crime Bust | #cybercrime | #infosec

Interpol, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies worldwide, successfully blocked 82,112 suspicious bank accounts and seized $199 million in cash along with $101 million worth of crypto assets as part of their operation.

Interpol’s HAECHI IV operation, supported by the South Korean government, has led to the arrest of 3500 suspects and the seizure of assets worth $300m connected with organized cybercrime schemes. It was a six-month operation that started in July 2023.

The operation targeted seven types of scams: voice phishing, romance scams, sextortion, investment fraud, money laundering, business email compromise, and e-commerce fraud. Among these, investment fraud, business email compromise (BEC), and e-commerce fraud accounted for 75% of cases investigated involving police from 34 countries.

Authorities blocked 82,112 suspicious bank accounts and confiscated $199 million in cash and $101 million worth of crypto assets. Moreover, they collaborated with VASPs (virtual asset service providers) to identify/freeze 367 virtual asset accounts, including cryptocurrency accounts, directly linked to transnational organized crime.

The highlight of the operation was the arrest of a high-profile online gambling criminal suspect after two years of searching. The suspect was arrested in Manila by Korea’s National Police Agency.

HAECHI IV issued two purple notices to warn about new investment scam tactics, including selling fake NFTs and Deepfake technology. UK police reported cases of AI-generated content in impersonation scams, sextortion, and investment fraud.

Interpol executive director of police services, Stephen Kavanagh, stated that seizing a “staggering sum” of $300m indicates why there has been an “explosive growth” in transnational organized crime.

“This represents the savings and hard-earned cash of victims. This vast accumulation of unlawful wealth is a serious threat to global security and weakens the economic stability of nations worldwide,” Kavanagh added.

INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Korea, Kim Dong Kwon, praised global efforts to stay ahead of criminal trends, stating that Project HAECHI will continue to evolve and expand its scope to ensure criminals are apprehended and face due punishment. The list of participating countries can be accessed here.

The image captures authorities in Manila arresting a high-profile gambling suspect under the coordination of Interpol (Credit: Interpol)

This isn’t the first such operation the Interpol has conducted in cooperation with transnational law enforcement agencies to nab cybercriminals and bust online crime networks. Earlier in December 2023, Hackread reported about Operation Storm Makers II, a global initiative by Interpol that led to the arrest of 281 individuals involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling and the rescue of 149 victims through over 360 investigations.

In August, INTERPOL successfully dismantled the ’16shop’ phishing-as-a-service platform, arresting its operator and two facilitators with a joint effort between law enforcement and private sector partners, following Operation Narsil’s successful shutdown of a decade-old child abuse network.

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