With the support of Europol and Eurojust, the Latvian State Police (Valsts policija) and the Lithuanian Police (Lietuvos Policija) have detained 108 people in Riga and Vilnius on suspicion of being involved in an international call center scam.
On March 24 and 25, special intervention teams, and hundreds of officers, raided three call centers belonging to the same organized crime group. According to preliminary calculations, the suspects arrested are believed to have turned an illegal profit of over $3.3 million per month with this scam.
As many as 200 fake traders, who spoke English, Russian, Polish, and Hindi, would call unsuspecting victims to persuade them with “promising and lucrative” investment opportunities in bitcoin, commodities, and foreign currencies.
In addition, 80 people were detained in Latvia, and 28 were detained in Lithuania. Europol also seized cash, bank accounts, luxury vehicles, and 95,000 cryptocurrencies (EU).
Call center fraud is not new, but this joint operation proves that even the oldest tricks in the book continue to work, security leaders say. “Criminals continue to use old proven methods, such as calling targets directly, to get them to hand over their money under false pretenses,” says Joseph Carson, Chief Security Scientist and Advisory Chief Information Security Officer at Delinea.
YouTube, for instance, is now littered with ‘scam-outers’ publicizing various operations often across India, showing the vast industry this has become, says Andrew Barratt, Vice President at Coalfire. “The potential earnings this group has been able to generate also show just how active this threat is, often targeting end users directly or particular customer demographics of major multinational brands,” Barratt explains.
However, the good news is that these types of techniques used by scammers can be traced, and criminals will be taken down by law enforcement, eventually, says Carson.
While this remains a complex threat, Barratt suggests organizations mount customer-side security awareness campaigns explaining “just how they interact with their customers, particularly in the financial services industry.”