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Twenty people are under arrest after a series of coordinated raids Wednesday following a two-year long cybercrime investigation between the Romanian National Police and the Italian National Police.

Nine people in Romania and 11 in Italy remain in custody over a banking fraud netted €1 million from hundreds of customers of 2 major banking institutions.

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The Romanian authorities conducted three house searches, while the Italian National Police ordered the execution of 10 home and computer searches, involving more than 100 Italian policemen.

The organized crime group (OCG), which consisted of Italian nationals, used spear phishing emails impersonating tax authorities to harvest the online banking credentials of their victims.

Schneider Bold

While the most common phishing scams blast out millions of generic emails, spear phishing emails are personally addressed to targeted stakeholders with content to make it appear from a reputable source, such as a bank.

Recipients were encouraged to click on a link, which led to a fake version of a legitimate website where their account or contact details can be stolen.

The investigation which initiated in 2016 uncovered how the suspects used stolen online banking credentials to surreptitiously transfer money from the victims’ accounts into accounts under their control, and from there withdrew the money from ATMs in Romania with credit/debit cards linked to the criminal accounts, officials said.

The OCG pursued its criminal activity using encrypted chat applications.

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