Thousands of Suspects Arrested as Part of an International Operation Against Online Fraud

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The six-month-long Operation HAECHI IV was an international law enforcement effort targeting online financial crime, and it has resulted in nearly 3,500 arrests and the confiscation of assets totaling $300 million across 34 countries and involved the participation of countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

The operation targeted seven types of cyber scams, including voice phishing, romance scams, online sextortion, investment fraud, money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, business email compromise fraud, and e-commerce fraud.

Authorities reportedly blocked 82,112 suspicious bank accounts and seized a combined $199 million in hard currency and $101 million in virtual assets. 75% of cases investigated in the operation included investment fraud, business email compromise, and e-commerce fraud.

INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services Stephen Kavanagh said that the seizure of $300 million represents a staggering sum and clearly illustrates the incentive behind today’s explosive growth of transnational organized crime. “This represents the savings and hard-earned cash of victims. This vast accumulation of unlawful wealth is a serious threat to global security and weakens the economic stability of nations worldwide.”

Cooperation between Filipino and Korean authorities as part of this program led to the arrest of a high-profile online gambling criminal after a two-year manhunt by Korea’s National Police Agency.

Officers warned countries about new emerging digital investment fraud practices. One of these scams was detected in Korea and involves the sale of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) with promises of huge returns- a growing scam in the crypto industry where developers abruptly abandon a project, and investors lose their money.

A second notice warned about the use of AI and deepfake technology to make scams seem more credible by helping criminals hide their identity and pretend to be a familiar person to the victim.

In the UK, the operation uncovered instances of AI-generated synthetic content being used for deception, fraud, harassment, and extortion- including impersonation scams, online sexual blackmail, investment fraud, and cases where voice cloning technology was used to impersonate individuals known to the victims.