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Police arrest 76 in biggest ever raid against internet fraud

11 February 2008

MADRID – Seventy-six people were arrested Sunday in the biggest swoop against internet fraud in Spain to date. Operation Ulysses, which was carried out simultaneously in 15 regions, targeted people suspected of selling nonexistent goods to customers or gaining illegal access to their bank accounts and credit card information in order to make unauthorised transfers.

The total fraud is upwards of EUR 3 million, in amounts ranging from EUR 400 to EUR 10,000, police sources said. Interpol and Europol are cooperating with Spanish law enforcement agencies to identify the thousands of online users who have been affected by the scam. The members of the gang hail from 16 different countries, from Armenia to Moldavia, and include 45 Spaniards. It is believed that the money was used at least in part for "holiday shopping" – sprees financed with other people’s money.

The bank account information was obtained through two techniques known as phishing and pharming. In the first case, scammers create a phoney website imitating a real company or institutional web – often that of a bank or the Tax Agency – to trick the victims into providing their personal access codes. In the second, the victim’s computer is infected with a virus that automatically records the credit card information used on regular shopping websites.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / SUSANA URRA / Jorge A. Rodríguez 2008]

Subject: Spanish news