In an international operation that took place over six months, the INTERPOL succeeded in putting its hands on $83 million that were stolen from victims of online financial crime, arresting almost 600 suspects and solving about 900 fraud investigations worldwide in the process. The operation was focused on nine countries in Southeast Asia, but according to the organization, "the borderless nature of these online crimes meant that investigations soon spread to include law enforcement on every continent."
The operation, named HAECHI-I, began in September 2020 and focused on five types of financial cybercrime: investment fraud, romance scams, money laundering associated with online illegal gambling, online sextortion and voice phishing. Out of 1,400 investigations opened as part of the operation, 892 ended successfully, and some are still ongoing. A total of 585 people were arrested and more than 1,600 bank accounts around the world were frozen.
"Online fraudsters often attempt to exploit the borderless nature of the Internet by targeting victims in other countries or transferring their illicit funds abroad," said Ilana de Wild, Director of Organized and Emerging Crime at Interpol. "The results of Operation HAECHI-I demonstrate that online financial crime is fundamentally global and that only through close international cooperation can we effectively combat these criminals."
Law enforcement authorities from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Laos, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the operation. It is the first operation in an extensive three-year project to tackle online financial crime.