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Searches in Romania, Sweden and Republic of Moldova at an international computer fraud group

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Prosecutors from the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) and officers from the Romanian General Police Inspectorate (IGPR) - DCCO (Directorate for Combating Organized Crime), have carried out 13 home searches within the radius of the city of Bucharest and in nearby southeastern Calarasi county, in order to destroy an international group, which was involved in the laundering of tens of millions of euros from computer fraud, in this case front companies from Hong Kong and Israel being used, DIICOT informs in a press release.

Simultaneously with the action in Romania, eight home searches were carried out on the territory of the Republic of Moldova and four home searches on the territory of Sweden, told Agerpres.

Between February 2018 and January 2021, an organized group specialized in illicit money laundering activities took shape and developed on the territory of Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. The criminal activity of the group was of CRIME AS A SERVICE type - Money Laundering-as-a-Service (https://www.europol.europa.eu/iocta/2014/chap-3-1-view1.html), the criminal group making available to other criminal groups persons, front companies, bank accounts and a vast infrastructure for the purpose of moving, hiding and laundering sums of money derived from crimes.

For this purpose, citizens from other European countries (Ukrainians, Moldovans, Swedes) moved to the territory of Romania in order to establish commercial companies intended to commit crimes (without a real object of activity, valid for one year and with registered office at a law office). Later, bank accounts were opened in the name of these commercial companies, and bank cards and access to the online banking service were obtained.

The criminal activity of the group was permanently focused on the provision of money laundering services resulting from fraud and computer fraud, two modes of operation being identified:

* CEO Fraud/ BEC Fraud (Business E-mail Compromise Fraud) - represented by an IT fraud or, as the case may be, trickery directed against legal entities (firm, company, holding, etc.), from Europe, Australia, North America, South America and sometimes Asia;

* trickeries based on venture capital investments on unregulated trading platforms in the European Union, directed against individuals, who were lured by various methods of social engineering to invest through a "broker" on such platforms and, subsequently, were dispossessed, by various means, of the funds deposited.

The sums of money obtained in this way were transferred through some offshore/phantom companies to accounts in Europe and later ended up in the bank accounts of commercial companies in Romania, controlled by the criminal group specialized in money laundering.

These sums of money were redirected by the group's coordinators to Asia, respectively to companies controlled by intermediaries in Hong Kong and Israel.

"We specify that the volume of transactions that are the subject of criminal investigation activities exceeds the amount of 70 million euros, some transfers being greater than 3 million euros. The total value of the assets in question is more than 5 million dollars," DIICOT says.

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