Operation “First Light”
The war on cybercrime goes on. As its next round unwinds in 2022, Interpol arrests hundreds of Internet-fraud-related suspects within two months.
The operation in question got dubbed First Light and concentrated on raiding illegal call centers in different countries, with the seized funds amounting to $50 million in assets. These offices were bases and control centers for a series of socially engineered fraudulent activities on the Internet via email and phone, including date scams.
Police of Singapore have raided money launderers and scammers performing flagrant staged kidnappings. The most bizarre case was an interrupted fraud involving a minor victim already lured into playing kidnapped and fake being beaten. The €1.5 million ransom was ready to be paid, but luckily law enforcement agents were there on time. They managed not only to prevent this transaction but also to arrest about 4,000 bank accounts used to service fraudulent operations.
Another suspect was a Chinese citizen captured in Papua New Guinea. He is believed to be a leader of a gang that fished up to €34 million out of 24 thousand victims of their Ponzi scheme. The suspect is repatriated for trial.
The scams like these are conducted in vast numbers and are highly difficult to track because their authors and victims reside in different countries and the schemes of the crooks are ever-changing. The First Light operation lasted two months and involved police activities in 76 countries.
Rory Corcoran, the head of Interpol’s financial crime division, has noted that the nature of such crimes requires cooperation among many nations’ law enforcement agencies. The First Light operation has proved the effectiveness of such an approach as authorities from all the countries that took part in the procedure shared information on questionable financial transactions, phone numbers, scam websites, IP addresses, etc. The juxtaposition of the gathered materials eventually allowed to carry out a coordinated across-the-world operation.