Major Interpol cybercrime operation results in 3,500 arrests and $300 million seized

OpenVPN-protokollet - därför är det så bra (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Around 3,500 people have been arrested and roughly $300 million seized in a major international law enforcement operation against cyber-criminals around the world.

The operation, codenamed HAECHI IV and spearheaded by Interpol alongside partners in 34 countries, took place between July and December this year, targeting cybercriminals involved in voice phishing, romance scams, online sextortion, investment fraud, money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, business email compromise fraud, and ecommerce fraud.

Their bank accounts were identified and frozen, and their virtual assets were seized using Interpol’s Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP), a stop-payment mechanism that helps countries work together to block criminal proceeds. Among those arrested is a “high-profile online gambling criminal” whom the police had been actively searching for over the past two years. The announcement also states that their illegal gambling network was dismantled.

Serious threat to global security

“The seizure of USD 300 million represents a staggering sum and clearly illustrates the incentive behind today’s explosive growth of transnational organized crime,” commented Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services. “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."

Investment fraud, business email compromise, and e-commerce fraud make up 75% of all cases investigated in HAECHI IV. Masterminds behind the usual “rug pull” cryptocurrency scams were also arrested. Apparently, some individuals were selling non-fungible tokens and promising huge returns, only to run away with the money that gullible investors put into the project. Furthermore, some of the criminals arrested were also using artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfake technology to improve the perceived credibility of scams and help them hide their identities better. 

Among the countries participating in HAECHI IV are the United States, UK, Japan, Spain, and Sweden.

More from TechRadar Pro

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.