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European Authorities Arrest 49 Suspected Members of Cybercrime Ring

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) announced on Wednesday the results of a joint international operation targeting a criminal group that used malware and social engineering to steal a large amount of money.

According to the EC3, the fraudsters planted malware on the systems of medium and large European companies. The malware allowed them to obtain unauthorized access to corporate email accounts and monitor them for payment requests.

When they came across such an email, the fraudsters asked the targeted company’s customer to send the payment to a bank account they controlled instead of the legitimate account. The money was then quickly cashed out through various methods, said the EC3.

The suspects, located mainly in Cameroon, Nigeria, and Spain, used a sophisticated money laundering network to transfer the money outside the European Union.

The now dismantled cybercrime group was active in Italy, Spain, Poland, the UK, Belgium and Georgia. Law enforcement agencies in Italy, Spain, Poland and the United Kingdom have worked together on the operation coordinated from Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.

Officers arrested 49 individuals and searched a total of 58 properties. They seized various items from the suspects, including credit cards, cash, forged bank account documents, laptops, phones, SIM cards, tablets, hard drives, and memory sticks.

Europol noted that parallel investigations revealed fraud totaling 6 million EUR (6.8 million USD), which fraudsters accumulated in a short period of time.

Related: Alleged Developers of Photobucket Hacking Tool Arrested

Related: Canadian Hacker Arrested for Spying Through Webcams

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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.