Nine people were arrested on Tuesday during raids on 24 homes across the Netherlands as Belgian and Dutch police partnered with Europol to shut down an alleged criminal gang involved in lucrative phishing scams.
In a statement, Europol said the raids “dismantled” an organized crime group that conducted a range of fraud, scams and money laundering.
Guns, ammunition, jewelry, electronic devices, thousands of euros and cryptocurrency were seized during the operation.
Dutch Police released their own statement on the raids, which it said were conducted in Amsterdam, Central Netherlands, West Brabant, Rotterdam, Eastern Netherlands and The Hague.
The law enforcement agency said officers arrested eight men between the ages of 25 and 36, all of whom are from Amsterdam, Almere, Rotterdam and Spijkenisse. They also arrested a 25-year-old woman from Deventer.
“They are suspected of phishing, internet scams and money laundering. According to Belgian police, dozens of Belgian victims are known. They were approached via email, text messages, WhatsApp messages and then – via a phishing link – to a counterfeit bank website,” Dutch Police said.
“Thus, the criminal network gained access to their accounts and they were able to loot an estimated millions of euros.”
A judge in Belgium issued the investigative order for the raids and Dutch Police said the nine will soon be extradited to Belgium.
Europol confirmed that the group typically contacted victims through email, text message and mobile messaging applications.
“These messages were sent by the members of the gang and contained a phishing link leading to a bogus banking website,” Europol said.
“Thinking they were viewing their own bank accounts through this website, the victims were duped into providing their banking credentials to the suspects. The investigative leads suggest that the criminal network managed to steal several million euros from their victims with this fraudulent activity.”
The group allegedly used money mules to get the money out of victim accounts and some members of the gang are reportedly connected to drug and firearm trafficking.
Europol said it sent three experts to the Netherlands and helped coordinate the raid with Police Fédérale/Federale Politie in Belgium and the Dutch Police.
Earlier this month, Europol worked with 11 countries to take down the operation behind the prolific Android malware FluBot.
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