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Spain's Most Wanted Cybercriminal Arrested in Romania

Read also: Two data brokers convicted of selling info on millions to fraudsters, four detained for sabotaging Interpol’s Red Notice system, and more.

Thursday, June 6, 2024
Views: 2.2k Read Time: 3 min.

Spain's Most Wanted Cybercriminal Arrested in Romania

Spain's most wanted cybercriminal arrested in Romania

A mastermind behind the organized crime group responsible for various online fraud schemes has been detained in Bucharest, Romania. The individual, who had been on the run for several years, is linked to over 300 reported fraud cases across Spain, with illicit financial transactions totaling 10 million euros.

The probe began in August 2021 following complains from multiple people that their WhatsApp accounts had been hijacked and used for fraudulent activities. The investigation revealed that the crimes were orchestrated by a well-organized group led by a Spanish national from Murcia. The group employed various fraudulent techniques, including WhatsApp account hijacking, vacation rental scams, fraudulent micro-loan applications, identity theft for bank account openings, phishing, smishing, and “child in distress” scams.

During the raid on the suspect's residence, police seized a cryptocurrency mining station, two laptops, desktop hard drives, several fraudulent bank cards, an industrial card printer, 55 forged Spanish national ID cards, and numerous blank card supports. The suspect was extradited to Spain and is currently in prison, awaiting further legal proceedings in Pamplona.

In a separate action, the Spanish police dismantled a large-scale IPTV operation that, since its establishment in 2015, has earned 5.3 million euros. The authorities arrested eight suspects believed to be linked to the illegal content distribution network.

Former top managers convicted of selling data on millions of Americans to fraudsters

Robert Reger and David Lytle were found guilty of criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as multiple counts of substantive mail and wire fraud.

Reger and Lytle participated in a decade-long scheme to sell consumer data to perpetrators of mass-mailing fraud schemes while employed at the advertising and marketing technology company Epsilon.

Using Epsilon's extensive database of 100 million US households, the defendants leveraged sophisticated algorithms to identify and target new “responsive buyers.” Reger, who worked at Epsilon from 2005 to 2017, led the sales teams responsible for the fraudulent activities. Lytle, employed at Epsilon from 2012 to 2018, served as a business development manager and was responsible for signing up many of the clients engaged in fraud.

In total, Reger was found guilty of seven counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud. Lytle was found guilty of seven counts of mail fraud and 12 counts of wire fraud. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 30. Both Reger and Lytle face a lengthy prison term, with each count carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Four arrested for aiding wanted cybercriminals bypass Interpol’s Red Notice system

A major multinational operation, conducted by Interpol and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with the cooperation of French and British authorities, has resulted in the arrest of four people in Moldova involved in a sophisticated scheme aimed at circumventing the Interpol-run Red Notice system.

Red Notice is a global alert to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons pending extradition. It should be noted that a Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant.

The sting operation exposed an international criminal organization with connections to a cybercrime network with ties to Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. An investigation led by the UK’s National Crime Agency identified corrupt individuals in Moldova, suspected of passing sensitive information about Red Notices to the wanted cybercriminals.

More specifically, the corruption investigation focuses on two overlapping schemes. The first scheme includes payments made to public officials to block or delete Red Notices. The second scheme involves officials informing cybercriminals about safe and unsafe travel destinations to evade capture.

ATM skimmer extradited to Puerto Rico to face charges of identity theft and bank fraud

Vlad Terebes, a Romanian citizen, was extradited from the United Kingdom to Puerto Rico on May 31, 2024, to face multiple charges, including aggravated identity theft and bank fraud.

The indictment alleges that Terebes and his accomplices used card skimming devices to obtain sensitive information from credit and debit card transactions at several major retail stores across Manatí, Canóvanas, Caguas, and Carolina, Puerto Rico. The number of affected victims is estimated to be over 1,200.

The criminals then used the stolen data (credit and debit card numbers, names, and personal identifying information) to attempt withdrawals totaling around $20,421 from the victims' bank accounts at a financial institution in Puerto Rico.

Terebes was arrested in the UK on February 2, 2024, at the request of the US authorities. If convicted, the man faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, along with a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least two years for each aggravated identity theft charge.

Europol cracks down on money mule service providers laundering over 10M euros

Italian and Portuguese authorities, with support of Europol and law enforcement agencies from six countries, have dismantled two networks of money-mule recruiters associated with a criminal organization specializing in cryptocurrency scams.

The criminal organization in question specialized in 'rip-deal' scams, targeting affluent individuals looking to invest or sell properties. Investigators revealed that the criminals laundered the illicit proceeds through criminal networks that recruited money mules.

The scheme involved scammers posing as representatives of an international investment fund to trick potential victims into investing their money. After establishing communication, the scammers instructed victims to download specific cryptocurrency management apps. Through these apps the fraudsters hijacked victims' crypto wallets and stole their funds.

The law enforcement operation resulted in a series of coordinated raids on May 21 and May 27 in France, Italy, and Romania that led to the arrest of 11 individuals, including the mastermind behind the money laundering scheme. Authorities also conducted 15 house searches, seizing numerous electronic devices, jewelry, and significant amounts of cryptocurrency.

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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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