Spanish police arrest 34 alleged cybercriminals for scamming operation

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Spanish police arrested 34 alleged cybercriminals accused of carrying out a variety of online scams — seizing firearms, a katana sword, baseball bat and €80,000 in the process.

Police conducted 16 searches in the provinces of Madrid, Málaga, Huelva, Alicante and Murcia as part of the operation against the group, which was announced on Saturday. The alleged cybercriminals are believed to have conducted scams by email, phone and text.

They also allegedly perpetrated “son in distress” scams — urgent appeals for financial help purportedly from the recipient’s child or other family member — as well as “manipulation of delivery notes from technology companies and vishing campaigns pretending to be employees of electrical supply companies.”

They are believed to have netted about €3 million ($3.2 million). Police also found a database with stolen information on four million people.

“The investigation began at the beginning of this year by specialized agents of the Central Cybercrime Unit, when they identified a criminal network that illegally accessed databases of various financial and credit entities, entering different amounts into client accounts of money from the credit institution,” the National Police said, in a translated statement. “They then contacted those clients informing them that due to a computer error they had entered a loan and had to return it.”

Investigators discovered that the group had allegedly penetrated other “multinational commercial databases,” getting access to personal information that was used to carry out scams.

The group also allegedly sold access to websites and programs used to carry out cybercrimes, including “fake banking websites, mass message sending programs or cross-databases.”

The operation is just the latest effort by Spanish law enforcement to crack down on cybercrime and scams. In April, Spanish police arrested a notorious teenage hacker — José Luis Huertas, or “Alcasec” — accused of carrying out a cyberattack on Spain’s national council of the judiciary (CGPJ), which affected other government ministries and compromised hundreds of thousands of taxpayer records.

Last December, Spanish police arrested 55 cybercriminals accused of taking over bank accounts by SIM swapping.

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James Reddick has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and in Cambodia, where he was Deputy Managing Editor of The Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.

 

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