Europol: When the Mafia is illegal on the internet


106 members of the Italian mafia were arrested for SIM swapping, BEC scams and phishing.

A joint operation between Europol, the Italian and Spanish police resulted in the arrest of 106 members of the Italian cybercrime mafia and the laundering of proceeds from illegal activities.

mafia

The suspects were arrested last week in Tenerife, (Canary Islands of Spain), in an operation by the authorities called "Fontana Almabahia".

The members of the mafia are accused of activities related to cybercrime and the authorities described them as "highly technical".

The group carried out SIM swapping, phishing and vishing attacks to break into corporate networks and steal funds or trick employees into sending payments to the wrong accounts in a classic scam called "BEC".

Using these tactics, the group stole and later laundered more than 10 million euros, using a network of accounts and fake companies to launder them.

Most of the victims were based in Italy, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.

Spanish police say they have been tracking the group since June 2020 when they spotted dangerous individuals linked to the Italian mafia in the Canary Islands

These individuals were associated with four Italian mafia organizations (Camorra Napolitana, Nuvoletta, Casamonica and Sacra Corona Unita).

Spanish police said they had been monitoring the suspects from the beginning and over the past year much more to understand and learn their internal structure.

The leaders were members of the Italian Neapolitan mafia, who traveled frequently to the Canary Islands to oversee their businesses.

Like any mafia business, the group did more than just steal. They have managed to penetrate many sections of Canary Islands society, such as business networks, law firms and banks.

"This level not only gave the organization resources for money laundering, but also for the various criminal activities that took place throughout Spain," the authorities said.

The group was also linked to prostitution circles, arms sales, drug trafficking, kidnappings, fraud, forgery of documents, Social Security fraud, robberies, extortion and two murders in the small Canary archipelago.

Authorities said the group needed hundreds of bank accounts to launder its stolen funds. These accounts had to be opened and closed at a very fast pace to prevent their funds from freezing.

At one point, in order to gain access to new bank accounts, the group kidnapped a woman and forced her to open 50 bank accounts on behalf of the organization. He then made her empty her account from an ATM.

Authorities disbanded the team last week after 16 raids in Tenerife's Santa Cruz, Turin in Spain and Izernia in Italy.

They arrested 106 people, froze 118 bank accounts, seized 224 credit cards, 402 marijuana trees, along with computer equipment, telephones and SIM cards.

A book confiscated during the raids showed that the group had obtained more than 80 SIM cards that they were preparing to use in future SIM swapping attacks.


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