2,000 Suspects Arrested for Ties to Call Center Scams, Online Fraud Schemes

A global joint law enforcement effort recently resulted in the arrest of 2,000 suspects allegedly behind various scams, including call center fraud and online romance schemes

Interpol today announced(Opens in a new window) the results of Operation First Light 2022, a worldwide crackdown that involved law enforcement agencies from 76 countries. 

The operation, which occurred from March to May, targeted individuals and organized groups behind social engineering crimes, which often involve duping victims into transferring cash. “Police in participating countries raided national call centers suspected of telecommunications or scamming fraud, particularly telephone deception, romance scams, e-mail deception, and connected financial crime,” Interpol added. 

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An arrest at a raid of a call center in Hong Kong.
(Photo: Interpol)

The results from the crackdown are still coming in. But according to Interpol, the operation spanned police raids on 1,770 locations. “Some 3,000 suspects” were identified while “some 2,000 operators, fraudsters, and money launderers arrested,” Interpol said. At the same time, $50 million in stolen funds were seized and recovered. 

The law enforcement agency also offered various examples of the kind of schemes the operation stopped. For example, police in Hong Kong raided multiple national call centers allegedly behind telephone-based scams. 

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Police in Portugal seizing evidence from alleged scammers.
(Photo: Interpol)

Meanwhile, police in Singapore arrested(Opens in a new window) a Chinese national allegedly behind a Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 24,000 victims into giving up 34 million Euros. “Posing as an investment opportunity promising attractive returns, the scheme exploited social media and word of mouth to attract investors and incite them to recruit others,” Interpol said. 

Based on the operation, Interpol found that social media is increasingly being used for human trafficking, which can involve trapping people into forced labor. The international agency has also noticed a rise in criminals pretending to be bank officials or even Interpol agents to trick targets into handing over sensitive information or money.

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