More than 20,000 people were arrested in September, October, and November in a large-scale operation coordinated by Interpol worldwide to fight against telephone and Internet scams. The police organization reported this on Wednesday.
Lyon-based Interpol launched operation “First Light” in early 2020 in 35 countries. The various investigations led to more than 10,000 house searches, the arrest of 21,549 suspected criminals, fraudsters, and suspects of money laundering operations. Three hundred and ten bank accounts were also frozen, containing 127.5 million euros in suspected criminal money.
The suspects were involved in various types of online scams, especially of the ‘social engineering’ type, in which people are manipulated into revealing their passwords or bank details, the international police organization explains in a statement.
Interpol emphasizes that the criminals could take advantage of the pandemic context, which was fruitful for new tricks.
Most scams were emails suggesting business deals, romantic or sexual scams, “phishing” (defrauding people by luring them to a fake website), or “smishing” (SMS phishing) obtain personal or banking information.
In Singapore, police picked up a suspect who had a fake Interpol membership card while accompanying an older woman to an ATM. The investigation revealed that this suspect himself was the victim of criminals posing as Chinese police officers. The criminals gave him false papers and ordered him to steal the woman.