The Spanish national police arrested six suspects belonging to a criminal gang that had stolen more than €12 million from hundreds of victims across Europe.
According to Spanish authorities, the group ran several fake investment websites posing as banks and cryptocurrency portals, and they tricked users into making fraudulent investments that sent money to the group's bank accounts.
The group then laundered the ill-gotten money through accounts at several Spanish banks before transferring it overseas to foreign financial entities. The criminals, who operated from Madrid and Barcelona, were hoping these were untraceable to the authorities – after some time, scammers would return the funds to Spanish accounts.
“The fraud method used by the criminal group consisted of offering any potential client, through fraudulent websites, the possibility of carrying out different financial operations, such as: contracting investment products (equities, futures, and cryptocurrencies), and the contracting of financing products,” the Spanish police said.
The malicious campaign, ultimately dismantled, was initially successful as the fake sites were of similar appearance to well-known, legitimate platforms.
This kind of registering of domains is called the typosquatting technique. By changing a character or swapping the position of two letters, threat actors make domains appear authentic to distracted or careless visitors.
Typically, victims end up on such sites by following links embedded in phishing emails. This is exactly how the Spanish gang drew traffic to its fake investment pages. They mostly targeted people in France, impersonating primarily French financial institutions.
The investigation was launched when the legal representative of one of the impersonated financial groups reported the case to the police. The police's investigation determined the total amount of money sent to the crime group's final destination was €12,345,731.
Spain’s efforts to battle cybercriminals have been quite fruitful lately. Last week, police arrested another bank scamming gang that netted over €2 million from hijacked accounts in Spain.
They gained control of the accounts by ‘smishing.’ Account holders received a text message supposedly from their bank with a link to a website to verify their security details, and some people were even phoned.
More from Cybernews:
Subscribe to our newsletter