If your sick of receiving scam phone calls and phishing email, this will put a smile on your face.

A few hours ago the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) announced one of the largest take downs in history. Operation “First Light 2022” took place from March 8th through May 8th 2022. It was initially focused on South East Asian countries and funded mostly by the Chinese Government, but eventually expanded to involve Police from 76 countries.

INTERPOL said it was still mopping up the loose ends but so far has seen:

  • 2,000 operators, fraudsters and money launderers arrested
  • 3,000 more suspects identified
  • 1,770 locations raided worldwide
  • 4,000 bank accounts frozen
  • USD $50 million seized

CLICK TO EXPAND PHOTOS


So called Social Engineering is the art of just asking a stranger for highly personal information. INTERPOL explains it this way:

Social engineering fraud refers to scams which manipulate or trick people into giving out confidential or personal information which can then be used for criminal financial gain.

INTERPOL

Police from the various countries raided mostly call centers run by scammers perpetrating romance scams, e-mail deception, and related financial crimes.

One of the more aggressive scams involved the Singapore Police rescued a teenager who had been tricked into pretending to be kidnaped then sending videos of his fake wounds to his parents and demanding a EUR 1.5 million ransom.

Other scams saw fictitious high paying online marketing jobs that resulted in hundreds of hours of unpaid work for unsuspecting victims all around the world.

The most successful scammer was based in Papua New Guinea and had taken about USD $40 million from 24,000 Ponzi scheme victims

“The transnational and digital nature of different types of telecom and social engineering fraud continues to present grave challenges for local police authorities, because perpetrators operate from a different country or even continent than their victims and keep updating their fraud scheme. INTERPOL provides a unique platform for police cooperation to address this challenge”

INTERPOL
US romance scam losses 2017 - 2021

While this is a massive take down, it will hardly put a dent in the multi-billion dollar online / telephone fraud industry.

Most scammers are adult professionals who study human behavior and exploit weaknesses with increasingly sophisticated stories.

In 2021 more than half a billion dollars was taken from US citizens alone in just “Romance Scams”.

Romance scammers weave all sorts of believable stories to con people, but their old standby involves pleas for help while claiming one financial or health crisis after another. The scammers’ stories might involve a sick child or a temporary inability to get to their money for a whole range of reasons. People who lost money to a romance scammer often report sending money repeatedly: they believe they’re helping someone they care about. But it’s all a lie.

US Federal Trade Commission


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