Europol and Singapore Police arrest suspect behind €6 million Coronavirus money laundering scheme

As the cybercrime landscape continues to expand amid the Coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world have joined forces to fight the rising criminal activity.

In a press release from April 6, Europol announced that a 39-year old man suspected of a €6 million medical equipment scam was arrested in Singapore.

According to authorities, the suspect is thought to have been impersonating a legitimate company that offered delivery of FFP2 surgical masks and hand sanitizer to a pharmaceutical company in Europe.

The report states that, “once the pharmaceutical company transferred the funds to a bank in Singapore, the items were never delivered and the supplier became uncontactable.”

The money-laundering scheme, which had deceived a pharmaceutical company out of €6.64 million, was interrupted after Europol contacted Singaporean authorities to block the transaction. Luckily, their efforts paid off, and local police were able to identify the suspect and take him into custody on March 25.

The recent business email compromise attack (BEC) targeting pharmaceutical companies shows that criminal activity linked to the coronavirus is on the rise, and fraudsters are continuing the trend of exploiting the shortage of medical supplies.

Europol has also outlined the latest developments on how criminals profit from current events in a report published on March 27. From impersonating the CDC, WHO and local authorities to selling counterfeit medical products, bad actors are “adapting their modi operandi or engaging in new criminal activities” to capitalize on our fears and public health measures.

“Such criminal activities during a public health crisis are particularly threatening and can carry real risks to human lives,” said Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle. “That is why it is relevant more than ever to reinforce the fight against crime. Europol and its law enforcement partners are working closely together to ensure the health and safety of all citizens.”

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