An international cross-border operation led by the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), coordinated with Europol and the US Secret Service has resulted in the dismantling of a sophisticated organised crime group involved in credit card fraud and money laundering.
The massive operation also involved also police services from Austria, Denmark and Greece as well as the US Department of Justice and the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
According to the press statement released today, the operation yielded 105 arrests in 88 raids across Europe including 23 suspects arrested in Spain.
The police haul also included 105 suspects arrested in 88 raids, over €12 million retrieved, 87 accounts with more than €1.3 million frozen, €406 000 euros seized in cash, 14 high-end vehicles seized and 19 European arrest warrants executed.
OVER €12 MILLION LAUNDERED THROUGH PAYMENTS
The criminal organisation set up shell companies in the United States and opened bank accounts for these companies. To gain the trust of the financial institutions, members of the criminal network made transfers to the US-based accounts from different locations in the EU.
Based on this trust, the American-based banks issued debit and credit cards for these accounts. Retailers in on the scam, most of whom were in Spain, used the payment cards to finance the available credited amounts on the cards.
To launder the stolen funds, they transferred them to different bank accounts, owned by members of the criminal network located in several EU countries. More than 50 American financial institutions became victims of these fraudulent activities losing over €12 million.
COORDINATION CENTRE AT EUROPOL TO STEER-UP THE ACTIVITIES
Europol facilitated the information exchange, the operational coordination and provided analytical support for this eight months long investigation. During the operation, Europol set up a coordination centre at its headquarters with the use of a virtual command post to enable liaison officers from the involved countries, Europol experts and a representative from Eurojust to coordinate the operational activities. Europol also deployed an analyst to Greece to provide real-time analytical support to investigators on the ground.
The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) at Europol supported the operation. This standing operational team consists of cyber liaison officers from different countries who work from the same office on high profile cybercrime investigations.