Interpol Disrupts Scam Networks: Major Global Crackdown

    Interpol’s Operation First Light disrupted global scam networks, freezing 6,745 bank accounts and seizing $257 million in assets. The initiative led to 3,950 arrests and identified 14,643 potential suspects worldwide.

      • Interpol’s global Operation First Light targets online scams.
      • 6,745 bank accounts frozen and $257 million in assets seized.
      • Arrest of 3,950 suspects, with 14,643 potential suspects identified.
      • $2 million in cryptocurrency and $135 million in fiat intercepted.
      • Funded by China’s Ministry of Public Security, concluding in May 2024.

    Global Effort Against Onlin

    e Scams

    Interpol’s Operation First Light has marked a significant achievement in combating online scam networks. This global initiative, involving 61 countries, has successfully frozen 6,745 bank accounts and seized assets worth a total of $257 million. The operation’s scope encompassed various fraudulent activities, including phishing, investment fraud, fake online shopping sites, romance scams, and impersonation scams. These efforts led to the arrest of 3,950 suspects and identified an additional 14,643 potential suspects worldwide.

    During the operation, authorities intercepted approximately $135 million in fiat currency and $2 million in cryptocurrency. Additionally, over $120 million worth of assets, such as real estate, luxury vehicles, high-end jewelry, and other valuables, were confiscated. This large-scale operation underscores the global collaboration required to tackle sophisticated scam networks and protect victims.

    Strategic Collaboration and Future Plans

    Operation First Light, initiated in 2023, concluded with its final tactical phase from March to May 2024. The operation was funded by China’s Ministry of Public Security and culminated in a meeting in Tianjin, where participating countries reviewed results, shared intelligence, and strategized future actions. Since its inception in 2014, First Light operations have focused on strengthening international cooperation to combat social engineering and telecom fraud.

    A key tool in this operation was Interpol’s Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP) mechanism, which helped trace and intercept illicit proceeds in both fiat and cryptocurrency. For instance, police intercepted USD 331,000 in a business email compromise fraud involving a Spanish victim who transferred money to Hong Kong, China. The operation’s success highlights the importance of international collaboration and advanced technological tools in the fight against online scams.

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