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The online criminal operation reportedly defrauded over 300,000 persons and caused documented losses of at least 700,000 euros ($770k) using an email and SMS-based phishing campaign.
“To carry out computer scams, the criminal organization used hacking tools and business logistics.”
SMS Fraud With Cards
Participants of the Trinitarios group are believed to have used stolen credit cards to buy bitcoin, which was subsequently traded for fiat money flowing into a “common box,” according to the police’s cybercrime unit investigation.
Card details were obtained from targets who received phishing SMS messages on their phones stating they needed to repair a security issue with their bank accounts. The victims went to a phishing website that was made to resemble the official bank portal by clicking on the link in the SMS and submitted their account details there.
The stolen information was swiftly used to seek loans, attach new verification phone numbers to the hijacked accounts, link the cards to fake crypto wallets under their control, and watch the submitted data in real-time using phishing panels.
According to the officials, parallel cash-out schemes involved employing money mules to collect bank transfers, withdrawing cash from ATMs, and making fictitious transactions using point-of-sale (PoS) terminals from phony online e-commerce companies.
The money taken was reportedly used to cover group expenditures, buy narcotics and weapons, pay for meetings, pay attorneys, or send money directly to gang members who were in jail. The remainder was transported to the Dominican Republic, where it was utilized to buy property by other group members.
Cybercrime as a new source of income
As a new source of income, organized criminal groups have turned to cybercrime.
According to the Spanish authorities, Trinitarios utilized funds obtained through phishing to pay for its legal and operational costs.
An enormous network of hackers connected to the Italian mafia was brought down by a concerted Europol law enforcement operation in September 2021. These criminals generated over €10 million ($11.7 million) in annual revenues through SIM swapping and corporate email breach assaults.