The National Police of Spain has reportedly apprehended some 40 people for their alleged roles in an organized cybercrime syndicate referred to as the "Trinitarians," which allegedly stole some €700,000 through illicit activities.
Those arrested include perpetrators of phishing and smishing campaigns carried out by two hackers and more than two dozen suspects who have been reportedly charged with bank fraud, forgery, identity theft and money laundering, police officials said. Money was lifted from more than 300,000 victims.
Spanish law enforcement officials stated:
"The criminal organization used hacking tools and business logistics to carry out computer scams. With the profits obtained, they paid the fees of the lawyers of the members in prison, paid the membership fees to the gang, bought drugs to resell it, as well as acquired for their confrontations with members of rival gangs.”
Police Raid 13 Locations
The suspects also bought cryptocurrency coupons that were exchanged in the wallet of one of the members who controlled that virtual wallet as the "common box" of the organization, police said.
In the 13 houses that were searched in Madrid, Seville and Guadalajara, police found computer equipment, instruments for opening doors, lock picks, padlocks, cash, literature related to the structure of the group and lists of the 300,000 people who were defrauded.
To exercise their scams, the cyber hitmen sent bogus links via SMS that redirected users to a phishing site that presented itself as a legitimate financial institution. The messages alerted potential victims to an alleged security problem in their account that they could solve through the fraudulent link that was sent to them.
"They also had an extensive network of mules that they used to receive money from bank transfers and withdraw it through ATMs," the Spanish National Police said.
Online Scam Operation Busted
Earlier this year, international law enforcement led by the Spanish National Police took down an online scam operation that reportedly pocketed some five million euros in a year's time, largely from victims in the U.S.
Spanish police arrested eight members of the alleged cybercrime crew, including the supposed head of the gang. Meanwhile, Miami, Florida apprehended one suspect. The group is said to have tricked American victims by luring them to click on malicious links that led to a phishing ruse.
The suspects then withdrew the money through ATMs, transferred the sums to overseas accounts or converted them into crypto assets, law enforcement said.