Operation First Light Seizes $257m in Global Scam Bust

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Police forces from 61 countries have joined forces to dismantle online scam networks through Operation First Light 2024. 

The operation, orchestrated by Interpol, resulted in the arrest of 3950 suspects and the identification of 14,643 more. 

Authorities managed to freeze 6745 bank accounts and seized assets worth $257m, significantly disrupting transnational organized crime networks involved in phishing, investment fraud, fake online shopping sites, and romance and impersonation scams.

During the operation, police intercepted approximately $135m in fiat currency and $2m in cryptocurrency. Fiat currency, such as the US Dollar, Euro or Yen, is officially issued and regulated by governments. In addition, over $120m worth of assets, including real estate, luxury vehicles and high-value jewelry, were confiscated.

Notably, the operation saw significant achievements in various regions. In Hong Kong, multiple suspects were apprehended, and in Brazil, the Federal Police seized luxury items, including jewelry and electronics. In Namibia, authorities dismantled a sophisticated international scam network in the capital, rescuing 88 youths forced into conducting scams, and seized 163 computers and 350 mobile phones.

Read more on Interpol operations: How Interpol is Strengthening Regional and Global Defenses Against Cybercrime

According to a post published by Interpol today, the agency’s General Secretariat headquarters played a crucial role in analyzing data from seized devices and supporting local police efforts in countries like Namibia. 

The operation also utilized Interpol’s Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP) mechanism to trace and intercept illicit proceeds, successfully recovering significant sums in various instances. 

Dr. Isaac Kehinde Oginni, Director of Interpol’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC), emphasized the operation’s broader impact beyond financial metrics. 

“The results of this global police operation are more than just numbers – they represent lives protected, crimes prevented, and a healthier global economy worldwide,” he said.

First Light operations have been reportedly coordinated by Interpol since 2014 to enhance international cooperation in tackling social engineering and telecom fraud. 

The latest operation was funded by China’s Ministry of Public Security, which hosted the concluding meeting in Tianjin. The meeting brought together participating countries to analyze results, share intelligence and plan future operations.

Image credit: Borka Kiss / Shutterstock.com

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