On the website of nu.nl an article is posted on the arrest of a cyber criminal gang involved in phishing by the The Hague police. Unfortunately the header sounds a little more exciting than it is. Reading the article it becomes clear that the money mules, people who have their bank accounts used for the transfer of illegal money, were arrested as well as their recruiters. The masterminds themselves have not been arrested.
This is a good example of disruption, one of the techniques a law enforcement agency has available to stop cyber crime. If it is not possible to stop the gang, e.g. because they are based in another jurisdiction, it is possible to try and stop the gang’s actions in your own country. This has a few effects. The good side is that:
– the gangs activities are hindered severely;
– potential money mules know there is a risk involved in this activity;
– being active in the Netherlands becomes less attractive to the gang.
The down side of course that the gang:
– is in full swing;
– infrastructure is intact and functioning;
– will phish Dutch bank customers as soon as the organisation is back in order;
– is able to remain active in the rest of the world.
The alternative is doing nothing, so in my view the action of the The Hague police force is to be seen as a positive contribution in the fight against cyber crime. Who knows what other intelligence they have found and are able to share with foreign colleagues.
Wout de Natris
Leiderdorp, 28 January 2011