Police Bust $15 Million European Fraud Ring

European police claim to have dismantled a major fraud and money laundering ring operating across the continent after raids in mid-June.

A year-long investigation by the French National Gendarmerie, under the direction of the investigating magistrate at the Judicial Court of Bergerac, led police to swoop on several addresses in Paris on June 23, according to Europol.

The Europe-wide law enforcement organization, which supported the operation by deploying specialists to Paris, said eight Ivory Coast nationals were arrested as a result of the raid.

The fraudsters would use the name of existing French and foreign companies to order expensive goods online which did not require payment for 30 days. The delay meant they could disappear with the goods before payment was due, Europol explained.

The gang would move these stolen goods across Europe to a Turkish criminal network for onward sale. The proceeds were reportedly then laundered.

Over 80 companies are said to have been defrauded in this way, at an estimated cost of at least €13 million ($15 million).

The investigation is ongoing, with evidence seized during the recent house searches currently under analysis in the hope of generating further leads, Europol claimed.

Earlier this year, Europol said it helped to dismantle an organized crime group of mainly Greek nationals which defrauded US banks out of an estimated €12m ($14.4m) through shell companies. The credit cards they received from the banks were maxed out at Spanish retailers in on the scheme.

However, despite occasional successes, police appear to be struggling to contain the rise of online fraud across the globe.

It’s estimated that e-commerce fraud will jump 18% from 2020 to 2021 to exceed $20 billion this year, with China its biggest market, accounting for two-fifths (40%) of total losses by 2025.

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