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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Southwest Germany To Join Forces With Saarland To Combat Cybercrime

The Southwest region and the state of Saarland seek to join forces to fight against cybercrime in Germany.

At the request of the German Press Agency, Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) said that a cooperation agreement should be concluded with Saarland at the end of the week.

“Cyber Criminality does not have any national borders,” Strobl said in a statement.

According to the interior minister, the two federal states seek to cooperate in investigations against cybercriminals and in the training of specialists. Additionally, if the agreement is signed, uniform standards will be established, which would allow the exchange of information among officials. The interior ministers of the Union will meet in Saarland on Thursday and Friday to discuss the cooperation.

“Cyber Criminality also increases with digitalization. The network, for example, played a relevant role in practically all terrorist attacks or thwarted plot plans. Therefore, everything had to be done to keep the security authorities pace with the technological developments. For this, we need specialists, we need new technical and legal possibilities – especially for the encrypted Darknet,” Strobl said in a statement.

According to the interior minister of Baden-Württemberg, criminals are increasingly using the internet and social media to carry out criminal offenses.

Both national and international cooperation against cybercrime had shown success lately. For example, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and British law enforcement authorities arrested the 29-year-old hacker, who is suspected of the major Deutsche Telekom fraud, earlier this month. Additionally, on March 8, police in three countries, including Germany, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, took down a cybercriminal website, where buyers could purchase illicit goods, such as narcotics and firearms, from the sellers.

On March 1, a press release on justice.gov stated that the FBI and the DOJ joined forces with more than 50 law enforcement authorities based in the United States, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, and Israel to take down an international cybercrime ring. According to the federal indictments in the District of Columbia, 19 suspects were charged with taking part in various international fraud and money laundering conspiracies that led to more than $13 million in losses, including one scheme in which mid-level corporate employees were tricked into wiring millions of dollars to bank accounts under control of those in the criminal organization. Law enforcement authorities arrested 16 of the defendants on March 1 in a police action coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigations against the transnational criminal enterprise had been started years ago.

“These indictments and today’s arrests followed an international investigation into an interconnected web of money launderers, fraudsters and individuals that aided and abetted their criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “The defendants in the cases being unsealed today are accused of taking part in schemes in the United States and abroad, costing victims millions of dollars. The investigation demonstrates the importance of international cooperation amongst law enforcement in combating fraud and money laundering on a global basis.”

A total of four indictments were sealed in the alleged schemes, including online vehicle fraud, business email compromise (BEC), unlicensed money transmitting network, and international money laundering conspiracy.

The criminals who allegedly committed online vehicle fraud falsely advertised cars they did not own. They operated from Europe, mainly from Hungary, and marketed vehicles on popular websites aiming to attract customers from the US. The prices they offered were much lower than the market price. When buyers sent the criminals the funds to the fraudulently created bank accounts, the suspects immediately withdrawn all the money and scammed the customers.

In the BEC scheme, cybercriminals gave instructions to mid-level employees at large companies to initiate wire transfers to the suspect’s bank accounts, which they quickly transferred forward to accounts located in China.

Law enforcement authorities also discovered an unlicensed money transmitting network during the investigation, which the criminals operated from the United States, Europe, and Israel. Six defendants were arrested and are charged with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to one of the last indictment, Stanislav Nazarov, an Israeli citizen, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from various fraudulent schemes and engaged in international money laundering. Nazarov was arrested and is charged with three money laundering offenses during December 2016.

It is unclear if there were any dark net-related activity among the cybercriminals.

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