Europol arrests international cyber-fraud suspect

A Croatian national suspected of using a spoof website to pose as a Swiss investment company and con around 70 people out of a total of €5 million has been arrested in Spain by Europol.

The international police agency confirmed the arrest, which took place in the popular holiday resort island of Tenerife on October 6.

The alleged scammer, who was not named by Europol but is believed to be 50 years old, is accused of “running a large-scale, multi-layered investment fraud scheme” that used a fake website to socially engineer dozens of German citizens into parting with their cash.

“This criminal would pose as an employee of a real, Geneva-based investment company and reach out to unsuspecting victims to persuade them to part with their savings,” said Europol in a statement announcing the bust.

“In order to fabricate a sense of legitimacy, the scammer had set-up a ‘spoofed’ website which looked nearly identical to the real company’s website,” it added. “Investment documents which appeared to have been made by recognisable banks and insurance companies were also provided to prospective victims to trick them. The investors were instructed to send funds via wire transfer to bank accounts controlled by the criminal.”

Once the victims paid the money, the alleged scammer vanished with it, moving the stolen funds through other countries to launder them. Police in Germany launched an inquiry in 2019 with the support of Europol’s financial crime division, eventually tracing the stolen money to Turkey and apprehending the suspected mastermind.

This wide-ranging investigation resulted in properties being searched by police in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Hungary – in further evidence that cybercrime knows no borders.

“International police cooperation was central in bringing the perpetrator to justice, as the criminal had set up a sophisticated infrastructure spread across multiple countries to hamper law enforcement’s abilities to track him down,” said Europol.

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