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Europol picks up ransomware criminals

Cops bust complex cybercrime network
Thu Feb 14 2013, 10:28
A man behind bars

EUROPEAN POLICE AGENCY Europol has broken up a cybercrime network that infected tens of thousands of computers and was shaking down users with ransomware.

Reuters reports that the cybercrime gang impersonated Europol itself and could have taken millions of euros a year. Europol has dismantled the scheme and arrested 11 people.

This was a wide ranging operation called Operation Ranson, and the first arrest was that of a 27 year old Russian who is suspected of building and distributing the malware involved. He was arrested in the United Arab Emirates and will be extradited to Spain. Ten others also were picked up across Europe - six Russians, two Ukrainians and two Georgians.

They allegedly used a ransomware scam to extort money from people and would present users with an on-screen warning that illegal activity was taking place on their computer. Users had to pay a fee to unlock the computer. That fee is said to have been €100, which, when you consider the estimated total take, shows you that people do fall for this sort of thing.

Compromised credit card information that was also sucked up in the sting was used to withdraw money from cash machines in Spain, and the cash was laundered with international money transfers through currency exchanges and call centres.

Operation Ransom was led by the Spanish Police. µ


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