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Major German-Speaking Crime Market Dismantled, Mastermind Arrested

Read also: the US charges an Iranian hacker, over 50 mules involved in betting fraud arrested in Spain, and more.

Thursday, March 7, 2024
Views: 5.7k Read Time: 3 min.

Major German-Speaking Crime Market Dismantled, Mastermind Arrested

Major German-speaking crime market dismantled, mastermind arrested

The German law enforcement authorities have announced the successful dismantling of the largest German-speaking illegal trading platform dubbed “Crimemarket.”

The market facilitated a wide array of illicit activities, from selling drugs and weapons to providing services like money laundering, cybercrime tutorials, and even commissioning criminal acts.

Operating on both the Dark Web and the Clear Web, Crimemarket boasted over 180,000 registered users, according to law enforcement authorities. In a coordinated effort, police officers executed 102 searches across Germany, resulting in the arrest of three alleged operators of Crimemarket, including a 23-year-old individual believed to be the primary suspect.

As part of the crackdown, the authorities seized mobile devices, IT equipment, and data storage devices, as well as narcotics and almost 600,000 euros in cash. Furthermore, the police have taken control of the domain address associated with the illicit platform. Investigations into both the sellers and users of Crimemarket are ongoing.

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Four members of a phishing gang arrested in the Netherlands

The Cybercrime Team of Rotterdam arrested four suspects as part of an investigation into phishing and bank help desk fraud. The arrests were made following an investigation into the data obtained from last year's international law enforcement operation called “Operation Cookie Monster”.

One of the suspects is believed to be the coordinator behind the phishing scheme, while the other two are suspected of executing the fraudulent practices. The alleged leader of the gang was previously arrested in 2021 in an investigation into bank helpdesk fraud but was released on bail. In March, he was scheduled to appear in court for the 2021 case.

The scheme involved a series of phishing websites designed to deceive victims into believing that they were visiting legitimate sites. During the searches, large amounts of cash, jewelry, watches, significant quantities of luxury and designer clothing and shoes, and a car were seized.

The police didn’t disclose the number of victims or amount of financial losses caused by this phishing operation, but said that one victim had over 33,000 euros stolen from them.

The US charges an Iranian hacker for attacks on defense contractors and private firms

The US Justice Department revealed charges against Alireza Shafie Nasab, an Iranian citizen, for his involvement in a long-running hacking campaign targeting the US government and private sectors, including the US Department of Treasury and State and defense contractors.

Court documents say that between at least 2016 and April 2021, Nasab, and his collaborators employed spearphishing techniques using a custom tool to infect victim computers with malware. In one instance, the group compromised over 200,000 employee accounts of a single victim.

Additionally, the conspirators used social engineering tactics, often impersonating individuals, particularly women, to gain victims' trust.

Nasab faces charges including conspiracy to commit computer fraud, carrying a maximum sentence of five years; conspiracy to commit wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years; wire fraud, also carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years; and aggravated identity theft, which mandates a consecutive two-year prison term. Currently, Alireza Shafie Nasab remains at large.

Over 50 mules involved in betting fraud arrested in Spain

The Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional) apprehended 53 individuals suspected of their role in a criminal syndicate engaged in manipulating sports events and deceiving betting platforms. The arrested allegedly acted as “betting mules,” providing their personal details and personal accounts on different betting platforms in exchange for money.

According to Spanish authorities, the criminal network orchestrated the fixing of football, tennis, and table tennis matches across more than 20 nations, including Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, and Bolivia.

The perpetrators used advanced technology to manipulate livestreams by intercepting satellite signals and capturing feed content, which enabled them to gain access to the live signal ahead of betting platforms and place substantial bets on predetermined outcomes. The criminal syndicate is said to have controlled over 1,500 betting accounts and accumulated about 2 million euros in winnings.

The effort is a second phase of an investigation that began in 2020. The first phase of the operation resulted in the arrest of 22 people, including the two leaders of the network. In total, the police made 75 arrests and seized 80 mobile terminals, 2 large satellite dishes, over 200 prepaid SIM cards, 5,000 euros in cash, bank cards, and 13,000 euros in counterfeit bills. Also, 47 bank accounts, 28 accounts in payment gateways, and 400,000 euros in cryptocurrencies were blocked.

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Five criminals arrested in an ATM skimming scheme

Five suspects have been apprehended in the US for their involvement in a sophisticated ATM skimming operation targeting unsuspecting bank customers and resulting in the theft of account information and PIN numbers.

The defendants are facing charges of fraud and aggravated identity theft for their alleged roles in the scheme, which spanned from May 2022 to February 2023.

The defendants allegedly installed skimming devices and cameras on ATMs to capture account information and PIN numbers, which were then used to create counterfeit debit cards.

The defendants used counterfeit cards together with the recorded PIN numbers to withdraw cash and make purchases. The authorities said that over 600 victim accounts were compromised in the scheme, resulting in substantial financial losses for those affected.

What’s next:

Key Dutch has been working in information technology and cybersecurity for over 20 years, starting his first job with Windows 95 and dial-up modems. As the Editor-in-Chief of our Cybercrime Prosecution Weekly blog series, he compiles the most interesting news about police operations against cybercrime, as well as about regulatory actions enforcing data protection and privacy law.
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