Interpol has announced its seizure of $130 million in cash and assets associated with a string of global cybercrimes.
Interpol has made public its seizure of almost $130 million worth of cash and virtual assets tethered to various cyber crimes and money laundering campaigns in an operation known as “HAECHI III”.
Millions Have Been Seized from Cybercriminals
Interpol has announced its seizure of just under $130 million in money and virtual assets via Operation HAECHI III. The operation concluded on November 23, 2022, after almost half a year of investigation.
Almost a thousand suspects have been arrested in relation to these cybercrimes, of which there were 1,600 identified across 30 countries. In an official Interpol statement, it was reported that “voice phishing, romance scams, sextortion, investment fraud and money laundering associated with illegal online gambling” were the focal crimes targeted in Operation HAECHI III.
On top of this huge seizure and string of arrests, over 2,800 bank and virtual asset accounts linked with financial cybercrime were blocked, as you can see in the tweet above.
Interpol’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) supported the National Central Bureaus (NCBs) of the 30 countries involved in Operation HAECHI III, which also resulted in the publication of 95 notices and diffusions.
Operation HAECHI III May Have Caught Some Big Criminals
Among the 1,600 individuals arrested in Operation HAECHI III were two Red Notice criminals wanted in Korea for financial crimes. The pair are suspected to be involved in a huge Ponzi scheme, whereby over €28 million of victims’ money was embezzled. They were found and arrested in Greece and Italy.
Another crime highlighted in this operation involved the impersonation of Interpol. In this case, scammers managed to con victims out of $159,000 through persuasive techniques. The money was stolen via bank transfers, cryptocurrency exchanges, and virtual gift cards.
New Crime Trends Were Discovered in Operation HAECHI III
From Operation HAECHI III, investigators were able to pick up on new trends surfacing throughout the cybercrime space. Such trends indicate an increase in impersonation scams, romance frauds, sextortion, and investment frauds.
Romance fraud is becoming increasingly common on popular dating apps, such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. These scams often involve the emotional manipulation of the victim for the scammer’s financial gain. Along with this, investment frauds are evidently on the rise. In fact, investment fraud was found to be the fastest-growing type of complaint in Fraud.org’s Top Ten Scams Report for 2021.
Cybercrime Continues to Put Billions at Risk
With the high level of sophistication cybercrime can achieve in our modern day, more people continue to be put at risk of falling victim to such malicious swindles. But as Interpol has shown, not everyone will be able to get away with cybercrime, which is certainly good news for the public. As investigation methods improve over time, we may even see an increasing number of solved cybercrime cases and caught criminals.