Nine people were arrested following the interception of a European Union payments phishing campaign that allegedly defrauded over 5,000 citizens of Ukraine of more than 100 million hryvnias (about $3.39 million), according to a press release.
The Ukraine Cyber Police Department and the Pechersk Police Department upended the criminal operation that is accused of sending about 400 phishing links to residents of Ukraine, the release stated.
When unsuspecting users clicked on one of the links, it sent them to malicious websites packaged as EU resource pages offering financial assistance and asking for credit or debit card details, according to the release.
“Through the websites, Ukrainians were offered to form an application for the payment of financial assistance from the countries of the European Union,” the release stated.
Law enforcement searched the residences of those accused and seized computer equipment, mobile phones, bank cards and cash, according to the release.
If found guilty of fraud charges under the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the suspects face up to 15 years in prison, the release stated.
“The Cyber Police urges citizens to obtain information about financial payments only from official sources, not to click on dubious links, and in no case to communicate confidential, in particular banking, information to third parties or to indicate such data on suspicious resources,” according to the release.
When Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February and martial law was announced, the National Bank of Ukraine suspended the country’s currency markets, stopped the circulation of all securities, limited cash withdrawals and halted the use of electronic currency and digital wallets.
The central bank passed several temporary resolutions, including capping daily cash withdrawals to the equivalent of roughly $3,340 and suspending digital money transactions.