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Thousands Arrested in Global Raids on Social-Engineering Scammers

Interpol says it busted fraudsters who were operating call centers for romance scams, get-rich-quick schemes, and more.

Interpol has announced that a coordinated, global law-enforcement effort has led to the arrest of 2,000 individuals and the seizure of more than $50 million in illicit funds stolen through a variety of social-engineering scams. 

The operation, code-named First Light 2022, included police raids on call centers, where cybercriminals are alleged to have been operating a variety of social engineering telephone frauds, ranging from romance scams to connected financial crimes, according to Interpol. 

The international law-enforcement agency said the effort included coordinated policework across 76 countries. In all, 1,770 individual locations were raided, leading to the arrests of thousands of accused fraudsters, operators, and money launderers, along with the identification of other suspects. 

The investigation also revealed an uptick in social media driving human trafficking, money laundering through victims' personal bank accounts, scammers posing as bank employees to trick targets into giving up credentials, and more. 

“Telecom and [business email compromise] BEC fraud are sources of serious concern for many countries, and have a hugely damaging effect on economies, businesses and communities.” said Rory Corcoran, director of Interpol's Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC), in a statement about First Light 2022. “The international nature of these crimes can only be addressed successfully by law enforcement working together beyond borders."