Dubai Police have dismantled an international cybercrime syndicate that defrauded major companies in several countries.
A total of 43 suspects were arrested in the operation codenamed 'Monopoly'. The police also identified the gang leader and 20 other accomplices against whom international arrest warrants were issued.
The fraudsters targeted businesses by hacking into their official emails. They also used deepfake technology to impersonate firms' directors and convince branch managers to transfer money for non-existent deals.
A specialised anti-cybercrime team traced the group's two-phase transfers of $36 million.
The criminals employed sophisticated techniques to move money from one account to another to hide their tracks before withdrawing it via intermediaries and depositing it into specialised money holding and transfer companies.
The operation began when a lawyer of a company in an Asian country logged a complaint through Dubai Police's anti-cybercrime platform, e-crime.ae, about an international gang that hacked into the email of the company's CEO, impersonated him, and instructed the accounts manager to transfer around $19 million to an account in one of the banks in Dubai, claiming the amount was for the benefit of the company's branch in the emirate.
Dubai Police's anti-cybercrime and anti-money laundering departments started tracing the money's trail and began monitoring the gang members' movements, luring them to the UAE without raising their suspicion.
The account to which the money was transferred belonged to a person who opened it in 2018 and had left the country since.
The gang re-routed the funds through several accounts before withdrawing and depositing them in cash vaults of specialised money holding and transport companies.
Hacking another company
While the Dubai Police task force was monitoring this case, the gang hacked into the electronic communications system of another company outside the UAE and seized nearly $17 million.
The amount was handled in a similar manner involving multiple transfers before depositing it into their cash vaults.
Dubai Police captured 43 suspects involved in these crimes and also seized luxury cars and expensive artworks.
The gang members, who mainly targeted corporate executives, business people and wealthy individuals, closely monitored the electronic activities of their potential targets.
Dubai Police lauded the international collaboration between police and security agencies that participated in Operation Monopoly, including those from France, Hong Kong and Singapore, along with liaison officers in several countries.
This cooperation resulted in the dismantling and disintegration of the gang, underscoring the impact of partnerships between law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat transnational organised crime.
@DubaiPoliceHQ’s 'Monopoly' operation unveils the arrest details of a transnational hacker and fraud network exploiting major enterprises. Unprecedented cooperation and expertise highlighted.https://t.co/bIIyJWbrRY pic.twitter.com/G6RxJvC5gC— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) November 9, 2023