The Spanish National Police has apprehended a Ukrainian national wanted internationally for his involvement in a scareware operation spanning from 2006 to 2011.
This extensive operation led to the infection of hundreds of thousands of computers with malicious software designed to display pop-up messages intended to mislead the users into thinking their computers were infected by malware.
Unsuspecting victims who wanted to get rid of the alleged malware infections were coerced into paying $129 for a fake security program offered by the criminal gang and marketed as an antivirus solution capable of cleaning their devices.
The impact of this malicious scheme was dire, impacting hundreds of thousands of victims globally and resulting in consumer losses exceeding $70 million.
On Tuesday, June 11th, Spanish authorities arrested the suspect at the Barcelona-El Prat airport upon his arrival after the law enforcement agents found out about his planned flight to Barcelona.
“The operation has been carried out by investigators from the General Information Police Station in coordination with the Provincial Information Brigades of Tenerife and Barcelona and with the El Prat Airport Police Station,” a Spanish National Police press release published on Saturday reads.
“At the international level, it has had the support of the FBI and INTERPOL.”
The arrest was made possible thanks to an Interpol Red Notice issued by the United States, underscoring the international collaboration in bringing criminals to justice.
Unlike international arrest warrants, an Interpol Red Notice is a request to law enforcement agencies worldwide, urging them to locate and apprehend a wanted individual pending their extradition, surrender, or other related legal proceedings.
Spanish authorities also disclosed on Saturday that the suspect had managed to elude capture by United States authorities for over a decade.
Following his arrest, he was brought before the Central Investigating Court number Six of the Spanish National Court, where he was formally placed under custody because the severity of the charges levied against him required immediate incarceration.
In May, the Spanish police dismantled a large-scale phishing operation linked to a criminal organization after arresting 40 individuals suspected of involvement in computer scams, identity theft, bank scams, money laundering, and more.
Their large-scale email and SMS-based phishing campaign allegedly hit more than 300,000 people, leading to confirmed losses of at least €700,000 (around $770,000).
One month earlier, the Ukrainian cyber police apprehended a 36-year-old Ukrainian man selling the private data of over 300 million Ukrainian and European Union citizens to the Russians.