A group of ten criminals have recently been arrested in the Costa del Sol area of Spain. These ten are from varying countries and are said to have been running a ransomware scam. The arrests were made by Europol, the European police agency and follow the arrest of the head of the network who was taken into custody last month while in Dubai. The head of the network is reportedly from Russia and this latest round of ten includes two Ukrainians, two Georgians and an additional six from Russia.
Regardless of their country of origin though, this group is said to have been running their ransomware scam across Europe and are believed to have taken in millions of euros. These crimes were based on a virus that locks a user's computer and in turn sends them a message that appeared to be a warning from the police. The key here, these messages were demanding a sum of €100 to unlock the computer.
Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol was noted as saying that this is essentially a mass marketing scam and that "even if only 2 percent fall victim to the scam, it is still a very good pickup rate.” He went on to say that 3 percent of those targeted in this scam were believed to have paid. Wainwright didn't mention any estimates in terms of dollar amounts, however Francisco Martínez, Spain’s secretary of state for security believes they collected more than €1 million in Spain alone.
Dollar amounts aside, an inspector from Spain that helped in the investigation said this organization "had a very well-structured and complex infrastructure." In addition to the arrests, police also took several computers as well as more than 200 credit cards and €26,000 in cash. Those arrested were charged with varying crimes including money laundering, fraud and involvement in a criminal organization.
[via The New York Times]