Police crack multi-million dollar real estate fraud gang
European police claim to have dismantled an international organized crime group (OGC) that has made millions through real estate fraud.
Police in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, backed by Europol, began operations against the gang in 2017. However, it was during 10 so-called “days of action” between September 2020 and September 2021 that the OGC was dismantled.
Its leader was apparently found in hiding in the Dominican Republic on false documents and extradited to Hungary last week.
A total of 130 suspects were identified and 116 searches carried out. The group is estimated to have caused losses of around 3.5 million euros ($ 4 million) for more than 470 victims.
The fraud gang worked by posting bogus ads for properties for sale or rent, trick victims into sending deposit money and renting. The OGC also remotely hacked some victims’ computers, stole financial information and carried out transactions without their knowledge, Europol said.
In some cases, COVID-19 has been used as an excuse to install remote access software on these machines, he said.
Money mules have been recruited in Hungary to open bank accounts, receive and transfer funds, and conduct cryptocurrency transactions to aid in money laundering – with the illegal proceeds sent to the Dominican Republic.
According to a new Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment Europol report, the digital trend is creating new opportunities for CMOs and isolated cybercriminals.
“The move towards cashless economies creates powerful incentives for payment fraudsters… The constant increase in the number of users and connections creates new vulnerabilities and opens up more potential victims to cyber attacks,” he said. Explain.
“Cybercrime is attractive to criminals because of the potential rewards, limited risk of detection and prosecution, which, if successful, often results in low penalties. “
The real estate and rental fraud reported to the FBI last year cost victims an estimated $ 213 million on the back of about 13,600 cases. As such, it was one of the top 10 incomes for cybercriminals.