Security Experts:

2,000 People Arrested Worldwide for Social Engineering Schemes

Interpol announced on Wednesday that many individuals have been arrested and a significant amount of criminal assets have been seized as part of an international law enforcement operation targeting social engineering schemes.

The operation, dubbed “First Light 2022,” involved law enforcement agencies in more than 70 countries, including China, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Portugal.

As part of this operation, which ran between March 8 and May 8, police raided more than 1,700 locations, identified roughly 3,000 suspects, and arrested 2,000 individuals believed to be involved in illicit activities.

Authorities also froze approximately 4,000 bank accounts and intercepted $50 million worth of illegal funds.

The suspects allegedly had a role in various schemes that involved over-the-phone or online communications, including romance scams, business email compromise (BEC) and associated money laundering.

“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 schemes,” said Duan Daqi, head of the Interpol National Central Bureau in Beijing.

Operation First Light is an annual operation conducted since 2014 against telecom fraud and other types of social engineering scams.

Related: Nigerian Authorities Arrest 11 Members of Prolific BEC Fraud Group

Related: FBI: 65 People Arrested Worldwide in BEC Bust

Related: Russian Authorities Arrest Head of International Cybercrime Group

Related: Accounts Deceivable: Email Scam Costliest Type of Cybercrime

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.