Twenty people said to have been members of a money-laundering organisation have been arrested in several countries in Europe.
According to a report by New Europe, the organisation called “QQAAZZ” was responsible for stealing millions of euros and transferring them among hundreds of accounts held in bank and cryptocurrency accounts across the world in a process called “tumbling” to make the activity undetectable.
The network then takes up to 50% as a commission and returns the balance to cyberhackers.
European and American authorities composed of Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as Portuguese investigators, joined forces in an operation called “2BaGoldMule” in a bid to dismantle the ring.
The joint police operation was carried out as a result of information obtained from the arrest of criminals in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal.
The suspects were believed to have owned a portfolio of fake personal and corporate bank accounts in global financial institutions and which were used to receive money stolen from their victims.
More than 40 houses were said to be searched by authorities in Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, and Latvia, with officials from both the US and Europe saying that the ring included citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Belgium.
“This operation has shown that through this type of cooperation, we can collectively tackle global cybercrime. This is the only way forward,” Portugal’s National Unit for Fighting Cybercrime director Carlos Cabreiro was quoted as saying.
All of the suspects were slapped with criminal charges in the US, Portugal, Spain and the UK.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre head Edvardas Šileris said: “Cybercriminals are constantly exploring new possibilities to abuse technology and financial frameworks to victimise millions of users in a moment from anywhere in the world.
“[This] operation shows how through proper law enforcement and international coordination we can turn the table on these criminals and bring them to justice,” he added.
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