Interpol diverts $83m of online fraud from cybercriminals

Interpol claims it has intercepted $83m belonging to victims of online financial crime from being transferred into the accounts of their hackers.

According to Bleeping Computer, over 40 law enforcement officers specialised in fighting cybercrime across Asia Pacific took part in Operation HAECHI-I – an Interpol-coordinated project – that lasted for over six months.

Between September 2020 and March of this year, law enforcement focused on tackling five different forms of online financial crime. These were romance scams, money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, voice phishing, online sextortion and investment fraud.

The stolen funds were blocked from reaching the scammers’ accounts following multiple joint operations as well as months of intelligence collection on the operations of the attackers.

During the Operation, Interpol claimed its agents opened over 1,400 investigations targeting cybercrime in regions such as China, Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Over 1,600 bank accounts were seized and frozen and 585 arrests were made globally.

Interpol director of organised and emerging crime Ilana de Wild said, “Online fraudsters often attempt to exploit the borderless nature of the Internet by targeting victims in other countries or transferring their illicit funds abroad.

“The results of Operation HAECHI-I demonstrate that online financial crime is fundamentally global and that only through close international cooperation can we effectively combat these criminals.”

Interpol previously advised online financial scam victims to take action immediately to intercept stolen funds before their money reached the hackers’ bank accounts. The organisation also warned all 194 member states earlier this year of fraudsters who were targeting dating app users and trying to trick them into investing through fake trading apps.

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