INTERPOL Arrests 3,500 Suspects in Sweeping Cybercrime Operation

INTERPOL Arrests 3,500 Suspects in Sweeping Cybercrime Operation

Interpol, the international police organisation, has arrested nearly 3,500 people allegedly connected to cybercrime in a sweeping operation announced on Tuesday. $US300 million worth of assets across 34 countries were reportedly seized. The operation, Haechi IV, blocked over 80,000 suspicious bank accounts and warned government officials of new types of scams using AI and fake NFTs.

“The seizure of USD 300 million represents a staggering sum and clearly illustrates the incentive behind today’s explosive growth of transnational organized crime,” said Stephen Kavanagh, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services. “This vast accumulation of unlawful wealth is a serious threat to global security and weakens the economic stability of nations worldwide.”

Malicious hacks have dominated the news cycle recently, as Interpol’s operation reported a 200 per cent surge in arrests this year. Comcast experienced a data breach affecting 36 million accounts according to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, potentially compromising every single Xfinity account. Ransomware gang Rhysida also exposed an upcoming Marvel video game from PlayStation on Tuesday, alongside passport scans of game developers. And just last month, 23andMe lost the biodata of 6.9 million customers in a hack. In a time where data hacks feel like they keep getting worse, it’s relieving to hear there are 3,500 fewer cybercriminals in the world.

A majority of the arrests were related to investment fraud, business email compromise, and e-commerce fraud the agency said. However, Haechi IV alerted participating countries about two novel tactics used by cybercriminals. Interpol found that AI-generated content was used several times in impersonation scams, online sexual blackmail, and investment fraud throughout the United Kingdom. Voice cloning technology was often used to impersonate people known to the victims.

The sale of NFTs was another scam tactic Interpol identified, commonly found in Korea, in which victims are promised high returns for their investments. However, these decoy crypto projects are often abandoned after the initial investment. Both of these scams utilise new technologies that exploit people’s limited understanding of the subject. Kavanagh says the 200% surge in arrests shows the “persistent challenge of cyber-enabled crime, reminding us to stay alert and keep refining our tactics against online fraud.”

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