Criminal organizations have adopted cybercriminals' tactics.
Cybercriminals have earned millions of dollars through phishing attacks, so it is not surprising that the Italian mafia has adopted similar strategies in recent years. According to a new press release issued by Europol, the Spanish National Police, with the assistance of the Italian National Police, Europol and Eurojust, destroyed an Italian Mafia affiliated with online fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, and property. Organize a criminal group to commit crimes.
However, the suspects in this case also used phishing attacks and other types of online fraud to defraud hundreds of victims, including SIM swapping and business email compromise (BEC). They were able to bring in €10 million ($11.7 million) in illegal funds in the last year alone before laundering it through a vast network of money mules and shell companies.
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The operation resulted in 106 arrests, mostly in Spain but also in Italy, 16 house searches, and the freezing of 118 bank accounts. The items seized during the raid included more than 224 credit cards, SIM cards, POS systems, and a cannabis plantation.
Developing into cybercriminals
The large criminal networks destroyed by the Spanish and Italian national police are very well organized, in a pyramidal structure, with different fields of expertise and roles. Among the members of the criminal group are computer experts who have designed phishing sites for attacking and committing online fraud. However, there are recruiters and organizers responsible for finding mules to transport stolen money, and money laundering experts, including several cryptocurrency experts.
The majority of the suspected members of the group are Italian nationals, with some having ties to the Italian Mafia. The operation was based in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The suspects used wire transfers to wire the victims (many of whom were Italian nationals) to a bank account controlled by a criminal network. These funds are then laundered through a huge network of money mules and fake companies. Now that the Italian Mafia has demonstrated that it is possible to use cybercriminal tactics, other criminal organizations may follow suit and attempt to become cybercriminals themselves.