€38m cyber fraud suspects busted by Europol

Cyber fraudsters who impersonated a company boss online to steal €38 million have been arrested after an international bust led by Europol.

“A joint investigation supported by Europol has led to the dismantling of a Franco-Israeli criminal network involved in large-scale CEO fraud,” it announced on Friday.

Police in France, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Israel, and Croatia worked together to bring down the syndicate, which allegedly targeted French companies by pretending to be decision-makers authorizing transfers of funds.

The group, believed to be crewed by Israeli and French nationals, is accused by Europol of defrauding a Paris real estate agent out of €38 million in 2021 and other similar cyber frauds.

During the international bust, eight suspects were arrested – six in France and two in Israel – while electronic equipment and vehicles were impounded. In addition to that, around €5 million was frozen in bank accounts in Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, in Spain, as well as €350,000 in virtual currencies.

Business email compromise is a fast-growing scam in the cyber world, in which fraudsters take advantage of relative ease of concealment online to impersonate decision-makers and other company employees to cheat them into making financial transfers.