European authorities bust cybercrime gang that hijacked business payments

The attackers hacked corporate email accounts and used them to divert payments from customers to their own bank accounts

Attackers compromise corporate email accounts to hijack business payments

Attackers compromise corporate email accounts to hijack business payments

Police in several European countries arrested 49 suspected members of a gang they say broke into corporate email accounts, using them to divert payments from business customers.

The gang operated in Italy, Spain, Poland, the U.K., Belgium and Georgia, according to Eurojust and Europol, the two agencies that coordinated and provided support to the police operation on the ground.

The gang's members, who were mainly from Nigeria, Cameroon and Spain, used malware and social engineering to compromise the computers of various large European companies. They then gained access to corporate email accounts and monitored them for payment-related communications from customers.

Whenever such requests were detected, they used the email accounts to instruct customers to send their payments to bank accounts under their control.

The stolen funds were immediately cashed out from the rogue bank accounts and transferred out of the European Union through a sophisticated network of money laundering transactions, Europol said.

The agency refers to the attack as a "man in the middle" one, although that's not technically accurate since the attackers had control over one end of the communications -- the email accounts. The attack also does not appear to have involved the interception of Internet traffic at the network layer while en route to its final destination, which is the most common use for the man-in-the-middle term.

In addition to the arrests Tuesday, law enforcement authorities in several countries searched 58 properties, seizing laptops, hard disk drives, phones, tablets, credit cards and cash, SIM cards, memory sticks, forged documents and bank account documents.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags fraudcybercrimemalwarelegalIdentity fraud / theftEuropolEurojust

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?