Online fraud group in Spain broken up by Europol


A hacker group based in southern Spain was broken up by Europol Wednesday. The group was estimated to have defrauded millions of euros from people around Europe.


Adam Berry

An internet fraud group that conned possibly hundreds of thousands of people was broken up Wednesday.

The group was estimated to have collected millions of euros in fake fines after posing as the European law enforcement agency Europol.

In a twist of irony, Europol - the agency they posed as - was successful in breaking up the hackers.

The group worked in over 30 countries and were mainly based in Costa del Sol on Spain's southern coast.

Their leader was a 27-year-old Russian citizen who was based in the United Arab Emirates.

He was arrested in December.

The New York Times reported that six of the accused were Russian, two were Ukranian and two from Georgia.

"It's impossible to know for sure how many citizens were affected by this, but we estimate hundreds of thousands of Europeans were," Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in a press conference in Madrid on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

"If we take into account that the average fine was 100 euros ($130) and three percent...paid it, then the estimated damage is millions of euros."

The fraud group used a virus known as "Ransomware" that would overpower anti-virus programs to lock a user's computer, reported Radio Free Europe.

The virus would leave messages on the computer demanding a fine they could pay online.