Investigators in the German state of Saxony have uncovered a Europe-wide network of cybercriminals, leading to arrest of 15 people accused of fraudulent online orders worth more than 18 million euros, said the State Office of Criminal Investigation Saxony (LKA) and the lead prosecutor in Dresden on Friday.
In mid-June, 31 apartments and business premises were searched in Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Finland and Ukraine. The alleged leader of the gang, a man with a Russian and Moldovan passport, was arrested in Cyprus.
In addition, there were arrest warrants against three other participants. They are accused of stealing, money laundering and computer fraud.
At the lowest level of the “business model” are so-called merchandise agents who are advertised via online ads as “logistics assistant”, “package manager” or “shipping employee”. According to the LKA, low earners and students are often used to carry out the scam, which offered a side income of up to 1500 euros. They are given online orders that were previously obtained from merchants with criminally obtained credit card information.
The “goods agent” repackages the goods and sends them to an address abroad, often to Eastern Europe. There, the products – such as high-quality electronics – are distributed via Internet platforms or dealers.
The recent large-scale deployment of the police followed from the confession of a man in 2012 who had worked as a “commodity agent” for the fraudsters. Since then, the network is said to have sent about 36,000 parcels abroad – each with an average value of around €500.