On 10 August, 23 suspects were detained in a series of raids carried out simultaneously in the Netherlands, Romania and Ireland, writes Europol.
In total, 34 places were searched. These criminals are believed to have defrauded companies in at least 20 countries of approximately €1 million. The fraud was run by an organised crime group which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic already illegally offered other fictitious products for sale online, such as wooden pellets.
Last year the criminals changed their modus operandi and started offering protective materials after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This criminal group – composed of nationals from different African countries residing in Europe, created fake email addresses and webpages similar to the ones belonging to legitimate wholesale companies. Impersonating these companies, these criminals would then trick the victims – mainly European and Asian companies, into placing orders with them, requesting the payments in advance in order for the goods to be sent. .
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