The head of an organisation allegedly responsible for hundreds of cyber attacks on banks around the world was arrested in the Spanish city of Alicante on Wednesday, according to the Spanish interior ministry.
The operation involved agents of the National Police, coordinated by Europol and the Specialised Office of Computer Crime.
The attacks, which were carried out using sophisticated computer malware, resulted in losses of more than one billion dollars.
The arrested man, named only as Denis K., is of Ukrainian nationality. Along with three other Russian and Ukrainian members of the organisation he infected the computer systems of mainly Russian banks with with malicious software.
Financial institutions in Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Taiwan were also targeted by taking control of the critical systems that allowed them to empty tellers remotely, alter balances or modify accounts.
In the case of Spain, the criminal organisation attacked ATMs located in the center of Madrid during the first quarter of 2017, making fraudulent extractions worth half a million euros.
Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoilo said that “we are facing one of the most important operations of the Central Cybercrime Unit of the National Police due to the international significance of the cybercriminal detained.
The profits obtained with each attack, which exceeded one and a half million dollars on average, were immediately converted into cryptocurrencies in order to facilitate their movement in an international network of money laundering.
In a raid carried out on the home of the detainee, computer equipment, jewelry valued at 500 thousand euros, various documents and two high-end vehicles, among other effects, were confiscated.
In addition, bank accounts and two homes valued at close to one million euros have been frozen.
Spanish investigators received operational support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States and Interpol to bring down the group of hackers.