Interpol Operation Freezes 7,000 Accounts, Seizes $257M in Global Scam Bust

Interpol Operation Freezes 7,000 Accounts, Seizes $257M in Global Scam Bust

Paige Henley

Paige Henley

Published on: July 3, 2024

In a massive crackdown on online scam networks, nearly 7,000 bank accounts were frozen, and assets worth $257 million were seized during a global police operation. Coordinated across 61 countries, this operation has been one of the most extensive efforts to combat cyber fraud to date.

Interpol, in a recent press release, revealed that Operation First Light 2024 resulted in the arrest of 3,950 individuals involved in various online scams. Additionally, 14,000 potential suspects were identified worldwide, highlighting the extensive reach and complexity of these fraudulent networks.

The operation specifically targeted a range of scams including phishing, investment fraud, fake online shopping sites, romance scams, and impersonation schemes. These crimes have collectively victimized countless individuals, leading to significant financial losses and emotional distress.

Authorities intercepted approximately $135 million in fiat currency and $2 million in cryptocurrency. Beyond cash, other seized assets totaled over $120 million, comprising real estate, high-end vehicles, expensive jewelry, and various valuable items and collections.

Dr. Isaac Kehinde Oginni, Director of Interpol’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre, emphasized the broader impact of the operation:

“The results of this global police operation are more than just numbers – they represent lives protected, crimes prevented, and a healthier global economy worldwide. By confiscating such large amounts of money and disrupting the networks behind them, we not only safeguard our communities but also deal a significant blow to the transnational organized crime groups that pose such a serious threat to global security.”

In a particularly poignant outcome, 88 youths were rescued in the Namibian capital of Windhoek. These young individuals had been forced into conducting online scams, a stark reminder of the human cost behind these crimes. Additional operations took place in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Brazil.

First Light operations, designed to combat social engineering and telecom fraud, receive funding from China’s Ministry of Public Security and are coordinated by Interpol. These operations are a critical part of the global effort to dismantle the infrastructure supporting cybercrime.

This latest operation follows another significant international law enforcement effort in December 2023, which resulted in nearly 3,500 arrests and the confiscation of assets totaling $300 million across 34 countries.

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