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Interpol targets telecoms in $50m crackdown

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A worldwide crackdown on social engineering fraud has seen scammers identified globally by Interpol.

Police participating in countries raided national call centres suspected of telecoms or scamming fraud, particularly telephone deception, email deception and connected financial crime.

In a statement, Interpol said it released preliminary figures which included 1,770 locations raided worldwide.

In those locations, 3,000 suspects were identified, 2,999 operators and money launderers were arrested and 4,000 bank accounts were frozen.

Additionally, around US$50 million worth of illicit funds were intercepted.

“The transnational and digital nature of different types of telecom and social engineering fraud continues to present grave challenges for local police authorities because perpetrators operate from a different country or even continent than their victims and keep updating their fraud schemes,” said Duan Daqi, head of the Interpol national central bureau in Beijing.

“Interpol provides a unique platform for police cooperation to address this challenge. Though Operation Firstlight 2022 is concluded, our collective law enforcement efforts will continue as the crimes persist.”

In one case, Interpol arrested a Chinese national suspected of involvement in a Ponzi scheme who may have defrauded around 24,000 victims out of US$35 million.

Additionally, the operation found that social media platforms are driving human trafficking and entrapping people into forced labour.

It also indicated that there was a growth in cybercriminals posing as Interpol officials in a bid to obtain money from victims believing themselves to be under investigation.

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