While fraud continues to flourish and local law enforcement struggles to help merchants, INTERPOL had a bit of good news in its battle against organized fraud rings and financial crime. The international law enforcement agency announced the results of a coordinated operation among more than 20 countries that produced more than 1,000 arrests and seized nearly $27 million in illicit funds.
The operation targeted money laundering and online fraud including various romance scams, business email compromises and investment schemes. The operation—named HAECHI-II—also piloted a new global stop-payment mechanism called the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol.
“The results of Operation HAECHI-II show that the surge in online financial crime generated by the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of waning,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “It also underlines the essential and unique role played by INTERPOL in assisting member countries combat a crime which is borderless by nature. Only through this level of global cooperation and coordination can national law enforcement effectively tackle what is a parallel cybercrime pandemic.”
One example from Columbia involved police uncovering a ring using a malware-laden mobile application using the name and branding of the Netflix show “Squid Game.” Masquerading as a product affiliated with the popular television series, the app was in fact a Trojan horse virus that, once downloaded, was able to hack the user’s billing information and subscribe to paid “premium” services without the user’s explicit approval.