An international police action broke up a huge Czech-Ukrainian gang


For a long time now, we have repeatedly reported on so-called “fake banker” scams, in which many naive people, despite all possible warnings, fall for the scammers’ legend about the threat to their account and either directly send or allow all their savings to be sent. Many are also persuaded by the threat of possible misuse of their identity to arrange large loans and send funds to fraudsters’ accounts.

Criminal investigators do deal with these cases, but due to the fact that the fraudsters are mostly based in other countries, unfortunately they are rarely caught and the money is hardly ever returned to the defrauded.

But now we can give at least a little joy to the cheated, because Czech criminalists, in cooperation with Ukrainian colleagues, managed to break up another large-scale organization that specialized in this type of fraud. The Czech-Ukrainian group operated throughout the territory of the Czech Republic, committed hundreds of these frauds and defrauded its victims of tens of millions of crowns.

You can see how the entire intervention took place in the video of the Czech and Ukrainian police officers

“The group impersonated employees of the Czech National Bank. They called victims under the fictitious legend that their account had been hacked and that they needed to transfer money to a so-called rescue account to save their savings. In some cases, they forced the victims to install a program for remote administration, thereby obtaining unlimited access to their online banking,” the police spokeswoman described the procedure of the fraudsters, saying that to increase credibility the fraudsters used so-called spoofing, that is, when communicating with the victims, they used the real names of bank employees and the phone numbers of the bank and the Police of the Czech Republic, so that the victims thought that they were really talking to a bank employee or a police officer.
“Thus, the deceived persons lost not only their savings, but also the money from the loans, which they apparently applied for themselves. The money from the account of the injured persons was mostly transferred to the accounts of mainly Ukrainian citizens living in the Czech Republic, who immediately withdrew the money from ATMs and handed it over to other persons. Those people who made their accounts available are at risk of being charged with the crime of money laundering.” the spokeswoman continued.

Due to the highly sophisticated way of committing crimes, it was difficult for the police to obtain any information leading to the perpetrators, but after less than a year and a half of investigation, obtaining evidence and identifying the suspects as well as unraveling the links between them, the criminalists managed to obtain enough evidence to allow the so-called realization.

Last week, more than a hundred Czech police officers, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine, the National Center Against Terrorism, Extremism and Cybercrime (NCTEKK) and intervention units from various parts of the Czech Republic, were deployed to implement the liquidation of a call center based in Odesa, Ukraine. The implementation took place on the same day and time in the territory of the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

“Twenty-three Czech citizens, including 7 women and 16 men, were detained by the police and 17 of them were charged with the particularly serious crime of participation in an organized criminal group. 12 of them were also charged with the particularly serious crimes of fraud and unauthorized access to a computer system and information carrier .
Of these all detained persons, 6 persons were detained in Ukraine, who will be extradited to the Czech Republic as part of the extradition proceedings and then also accused of the same criminal offences.
Another 17 persons, this time citizens of Ukraine, were detained by the Ukrainian police in cooperation with the Police of the Czech Republic in various parts of Ukraine as part of their own criminal proceedings.
the police spokeswoman described the results of the operation, saying that the police managed to secure in the Czech Republic and Ukraine together almost 50 laptops, almost 60 mobile phones, over 100 SIM cards, less than a dozen flash drives and crypto-wallets, over 30 payment cards, almost half million hryvnias, 80 thousand dollars, 1 thousand euros, drugs and weapons.

Coincidentally, as part of this implementation, criminal investigators also discovered two professionally equipped indoor marijuana cultivation facilities, operated in properties owned by a fifty-year-old woman who, according to the police, was in charge of recruiting so-called con artists.

The police officers have so far proven to the group that during a single year, i.e. from October 2022 to October 2023, its members committed more than 150 acts with a damage of almost 30 million crowns, of which more than 22 million crowns is complete damage, less than 1.5 million crowns in the stage trial and almost 4 million crowns in the preparation stage.
However, it is assumed that this group is responsible for several hundred more acts, which will significantly increase the damage caused. Currently, the file already contains over 20,000 sheets and around 1 TB of data.

The call center was located in Odessa and managed by a Ukrainian citizen. The fifty-year-old woman, who was first a fake operator herself, was supposed to be the main recruiter of new fake operators from the Czech Republic. She placed advertisements for jobs, communicated with interested parties, then trained them and ensured their departure to Ukraine. Operators earned an average of 80,000 to 200,000 crowns per month, depending on their skills.

According to the Ukrainian police, funds obtained from illegal activities were transferred to cryptocurrency or used to buy luxury cars and real estate, which were registered to friends and relatives of the perpetrators.

“The police filed a motion to arrest a 50-year-old woman and two men aged 40 and 42 to the public prosecutor. The judge accepted the subsequent motion and sent the three to custody last Friday. All the accused face up to ten years in prison.” concluded the police spokesperson.

“The members of the National Center against Terrorism, Extremism and Cybercrime participated in the mentioned operation together with their partners from the National Police of Ukraine and the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office. Thanks to long-term intensive international cooperation and the personal participation of Czech police officers in Ukraine during the implementation part of the operation, the entire structure was broken organized criminal groups.
Criminal activity in cyberspace knows no borders and its detection requires a high degree of expertise and a team approach. The high-quality work of the team of the Regional Directorate of the Police of the Hradec Králové Region and the intensive cooperation of NCTEKK with partners in Ukraine resulted in the liquidation of a dangerous group that targeted Czech citizens. Despite the extremely difficult security situation in eastern Ukraine, Czech police officers personally participated in the final phase of the operation in Odesa, Ukraine, and safely returned home to their families.”
added col. M.Sc. Jiří Nový, deputy director of NCTEKK for cybercrime.

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Although the fraudulent behavior described above concerns all regions, as the deceived people are from all over the Czech Republic, it was finally decided that the investigation would be taken over by criminal investigators from the Regional Directorate of the Hradec Králové Region, as the main Czech organizer is from here.

The article is in Czech

Tags: international police action broke huge CzechUkrainian gang


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