26 May 2021

Group-IB helps stop a large scammer group targeting senior citizens

Experts at Group-IB, an international cybersecurity company specialized in preventing cyberattacks and conducting high-tech cybercrime investigations, helped carry out a special operation to take down a large group of telephone scammers. Posing as representatives of the Central Bank of Russia or the Arbitration Court, the criminals offered elderly people compensation for drugs they had purchased or medical services they had used. Instead, the scammers tricked the victims and stole money from them — anywhere between $500 and $13,500.

In just two days, Group-IB helped arrest 16 members of the criminal group, which for years had been targeting elderly people in many parts of Russia. According to the police, the criminals had managed to deceive more than 50 senior citizens. The specialists involved in the operation have pointed out that the actual number of victims could be much higher.

Posing as employees of the Central Bank of Russia or the Arbitration Court, the criminals offered elderly people compensation for drugs or medical devices they had purchased. To gain their trust, the scammers used social engineering: they mentioned not only the victim’s name and address, but also the exact price of the drug or device that had been purchased. Yet compensation from the state could allegedly only be obtained after paying an insurance fee, tax, or a state fee to the amount of 15% of the compensation. The criminals used an instant money transfer system to steal money — anywhere between $500 and $13,500. One pensioner, for example, sent the scammers a few quick transfers totaling more than $3,800 using post office money transfer services, but it goes without saying that she failed to receive any «compensation».

Group-IB’s High-Tech Crime Investigation team provided technical support as part of the takedown operation. While examining the computers belonging to the criminals, the experts found databases containing personal data about the victims, information about the drugs they had bought, and scripts for scam phone conversations. The mobile devices used by the scammers contained irrefutable evidence of a coordinated fraud scheme and proof that the thieves had cashed out the stolen sums.

As a result of the special operation, 16 arrests were made: 7 «callers», that is scammers who contacted the victims by phone directly, and 7 «money mules», who helped the criminals withdraw and cash out the stolen money. Seven of the scammers have already been charged in court.

Group-IB is one of the leading providers of solutions dedicated to detecting and preventing cyberattacks, identifying online fraud, investigation of high-tech crimes and intellectual property protection, headquartered in Singapore. The company’s threat intelligence and research centers are located in the Middle East (Dubai), the Asia-Pacific (Singapore), Europe (Amsterdam), and Russia (Moscow).

Group-IB’s Threat Intelligence & Attribution system has been named one of the best in class by Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. Group-IB’s Threat Hunting Framework (earlier known as TDS) intended for the proactive search and the protection against complex and previously unknown cyberthreats has been recognized as one of the leaders in Network Detection and Response by the leading European analyst agency KuppingerCole Analysts AG, while Group-IB itself has been recognized as a Product Leader and Innovation Leader. Gartner identified Group-IB as a Representative Vendor in Online Fraud Detection for its Fraud Hunting Platform. In addition, Group-IB was granted Frost & Sullivan’s Innovation Excellence award for its Digital Risk Protection (DRP), an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core.

Group-IB’s technological leadership and R&D capabilities are built on the company’s 18 years of hands-on experience in cybercrime investigations worldwide and 70,000 hours of cybersecurity incident response accumulated in our leading forensic laboratory, high-tech crime investigations department, and round-the-clock CERT-GIB. Group-IB is a partner of Europol.

Group-IB’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks. Group-IB’s mission is to fight high-tech crime while protecting our clients in cyberspace and helping them achieve their goals. To do so, we analyze cyber threats, develop our infrastructure to monitor them, respond to incidents, investigate complex high-tech crimes, and design unique technologies, solutions, and services to counteract adversaries.

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