Interpol Thwarts Online Fraud Intercepting $83 Million Illicit Funds in the Asia-Pacific Region

Amid increasing cyber-enabled financial crimes, Interpol announced its latest successful operation, which intercepted a whopping $83 million in illicit funds.

According to a press release, law enforcement agencies in the Asia Pacific region opened more than 1,400 investigations between September 2020 and March 2021

Over six months, the Interpol-coordinated operation, codenamed HAECHI-I l, led to 585 arrests and 892 solved cases, including investment fraud, romance scams, money laundering associated with illegal online gambling, online sextortion and voice phishing.

By identifying fraudulent activity, police froze 1,600 bank accounts from around the world, recovering most of the victims’ funds in the process.

“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, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime.

“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.”

In one case investigated by INTERPOL’s financial crimes unit, an unnamed Korean company was swindled out of 7 million USD through fraudulent invoices received from an apparent trading partner.

However, the bank details on the invoices were changed, and the money was routed to bank accounts of fraudsters in Hong Kong and Indonesia. Shortly after the victim company reported the scam to local authorities, police managed to intercept and freeze almost half of the stolen funds.

“The key factors in intercepting illicit money transfers are speed and international cooperation,” said Amur Chandra, Brigadier General of the Indonesian National Police and Secretary of Indonesia’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau. “The faster victims notify law enforcement, the faster we can liaise with INTERPOL and law enforcement in the relevant countries to recover their funds and put these criminals behind bars.”

This lucrative operation was supported by law enforcement in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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