Imposters operating out of a Ukrainian call center defrauded thousands of victims while pretending to be IT security employees at their banks. The scheme has now been closed down.
The fraudsters contacted the victims, told them their bank accounts had been accessed by attackers, and requested financial information. They said it was necessary to prevent fraud – instead, the victims’ bank accounts were emptied.
The scheme has now been uncovered by Ukraine’s Cyber Police Department, the Main Investigative Department of the National Police, the Prosecutor General's Office, and law enforcement officers in Kazakhstan.
The investigators found that 37 operators working out of a call center established by three Dnipro residents called people living in Kazakhstan while pretending to be IT security employees at their banks.
The criminals informed citizens of suspicious transactions and reassured them that threat actors had accessed their accounts. People were persuaded to provide financial information under the guise of reverting the transactions.
After obtaining the all-important details, the perpetrators transferred the victims' money to accounts under their control. They also issued quick loans and sent the loan amounts to their accounts.
Offshore bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets were used to collect the ill-gotten money. It is estimated that approximately 18,000 citizens of Kazakhstan were defrauded. It is not yet known how much money was lost.
Law enforcement officers have also searched the call center and the suspects' residences, seizing 45 pieces of computer equipment, mobile phones, SIM cards, and draft records. It is now also clear that the criminals were in possession of databases containing personal information of citizens of Kazakhstan.
"The organizers encouraged the operators and paid interest on the amount they managed to obtain through criminal means," the Cyber Police Department of the National Police said.
In November, Europol and Ukraine’s Cyber Police arrested five Ukrainian citizens for their role in a pseudo-investment scheme, which defrauded victims of more than €200 million ($206,5 million) per year.
Threat actors operated via web resources and call centers set up around Europe. They contacted people with offers to invest in cryptocurrency and eventually receive high profits, trading in securities.
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