Dubai Police arrest 43 suspects over $36-million scam; bust international network of cybercriminals

The police have also identified the gang leader and 20 of his accomplices based outside the UAE


Sahim Salim

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Published: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 4:05 PM

Last updated: Fri 10 Nov 2023, 9:26 AM

The Dubai Police have busted an “international syndicate” of cybercriminals that targeted businesses in several countries. The gang hacked into emails of company CEOs and sent out mails to branch managers to dupe them into transferring money.

Forty-three suspects were arrested in the operation codenamed ‘Monopoly’. Additionally, the police have identified the gang leader and 20 of his accomplices based outside the UAE. An international arrest warrant has been issued against them.

The police’s security operation traced the gang's two-phase transfers of an estimated total of $36 million. The suspects tried to cover their tracks by moving the money from one account to another before withdrawing it via intermediaries. The money was then deposited in cash vaults of money holding and transport companies.

The police launched Operation Monopoly when a lawyer of a company in an Asian country logged a complaint through the force’s anti-cybercrime platform, The lawyer complained that the gang had hacked the email of the company's CEO, impersonated him, and instructed the accounts manager to transfer around $19 million to an account in a bank in Dubai.

Police investigations revealed that the account to which the money was transferred was opened by an individual in 2018. He was no longer in the UAE. The gang routed the funds through several accounts before stashing them away with money holding and transport companies.

While investigating this case, the police found the gang had hacked into the electronic communications of another company outside the UAE and embezzled $17 million.

The police tracked the money trail and lured the suspects to the UAE. On arresting them, the force seized luxury cars and expensive artworks.

According to the police, the hackers identified potential victims by studying their electronic activities. They primarily targeted corporate executives, businesspeople, and wealthy individuals.

The Dubai Police collaborated with security agencies in France, Hong Kong and Singapore to carry out the operation.


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