In a massive investigation into a “scareware” scheme that has brought in $72 million from victims around the world, police in eight countries have seized 47 computers and servers from the United States, Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. According to a statement by the U.S. Justice Department, the suspects in the cases planted scareware on almost 1 million victims.
The scheme involved a program that appeared to find a non-existent malicious software on the victim’s computer. The goal of the scam is to persuade the victims to give their credit card information so they could purchase a security program that would take care of that non-existent problem.
Police in Latvia has also seized at least five bank accounts that may have been set up by the leaders of the scheme. The U.S. Justice Department has released no information about the alleged suspects or any arrests.
There was also a second scheme disrupted on Wednesday. This was another scareware scam and it led to over $2 million in losses for the victims. This one was based on an ad placed in the classified section of a Minnesota newspaper site. Two Latvians were arrested in this case, Marina Maslobojeva, 23, and Peteris Sahurovs, 22, were arrested in Latvia on Tuesday. They each face one count of computer fraud in the United States, one count of conspiracy, and two counts of wire fraud.
While officials wouldn’t confirm if the seizures were the result of information gathered from servers taken at a Virginia-based web-hosting company early Tuesday morning, the investigation shows that authorities around the world are becoming more aggressive in their fight against cybercrime. The latest hacking attacks on government and corporate websites have kept the cybercrime units quite busy. There is little doubt that this fight will need to continue.