A joint operation had been carried out between Romania, Lithuania and Estonia that led to the bust of an organized crime group actively involved in phishing, fraud and money laundering. Eurojust and Europol had supported the operation.
On the day of action, the Romanian Police officers (Poliția Română) had searched four of the houses and had arrested three individuals. The final scale of the activity is yet to be known while further investigations are still ongoing.
The criminal organization had launched the phishing attacks utilizing the text messages and emails posing to be the legit banking institutions. The text messages bore links to the fake banking websites via which the suspects had either collected the bank account credentials along with the passwords from the victims or created new Smart ID accounts. The organized crime group had also used these credentials for making the unauthorized wire transfers to various bank accounts that they had controlled in multiple EU countries.
So far, the investigation had unveiled certain information that stated that the organized crime group had stolen over €200 000 from nearly 600 victims, 100 victims from Lithuania and 500 victims from Estonia. The damages caused could have been more. But this situation could not arrive as the Lithuanian and Estonian banks had flagged the suspicious transfers of approximately €450 000 in total. The recent examination of the evidence directs toward a much larger scale of the cybercriminal activities having possible victims in other countries as well.
Europol has actively taken part in the operation of the organization by promoting the exchange of information and providing analytical support. On the same day of action, Europol had deployed an expert to Romania for cross-checking the operational information against the database of Europol in real-time and furnish leads to the on-field investigators.
Along with Europol, Eurojust had also facilitated the cooperation between the judicial authorities who were involved in the case. Back in 2019, it had set up a Joint Investigation Team between Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and Europol.
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