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Hundreds arrested and millions seized in global INTERPOL operation against social engineering scams

Hundreds arrested and millions seized in global INTERPOL operation against social engineering scams

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A worldwide crackdown on social engineering fraud has seen scammers identified globally, substantial criminal assets seized and new investigative leads triggered in every continent.

The two-month (March 8– May 8 2022) operation, codenamed First Light 2022, saw 76 countries take part in an international clampdown on the organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.

Police in participating countries raided national call centres suspected of telecommunications or scamming fraud, particularly telephone deception, romance scams, email deception and connected financial crime.

Armen Najarian, Chief Identity Officer at fraud prevention specialist, Outseer, has commented on the news: “The fact that 76 countries were involved in this investigation shows how widespread fraud is across the globe – it’s endemic – so it’s great to see INTERPOL taking action. However, while this investigation is definitely a step in the right direction from INTERPOL that is likely to have fraudsters worried, it won’t push the needle long-term, as even the thousands of arrests and bank account freezes are just a drop in the ocean. Today, it’s telecommunications fraud and romance scams, but fraudsters are cunning and constantly on the lookout for tomorrow’s opportunities. We’re seeing huge amounts of scams targeting new areas, such as Buy Now Pay Later schemes, threat actors using the war in Ukraine as an ‘in’ and brand impersonation scams which make up 39% of all fraud globally.

“The onus has to be on financial institutions doing their part in being proactive rather than relying on INTERPOL’s reactive arrests, and making sure that fraudulent payments are not only detected but prevented in real time, using new techniques and tools like Machine Learning in order to keep up with new methods used by fraudsters. This stops consumers falling victim to a myriad of different fraud attacks, halting them in their tracks before any money is lost.”

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