Cybercrime-as-a-service network foiled, five arrests in NL


Five Dutch nationals have been arrested in an international operation focusing on an internet platform used by over 2,000 criminals to defraud victims in 18 countries.

The investigation was led by police in London and included The Hague-based Europol and the FBI and centred on the LabHost network. This network sold fake websites, such as banks or government institutions, which were then used to con people into entering their personal data.

By the beginning of 2024 more than 40,000 such phishing sites had been created and 2,000 users were registered and paying a monthly subscription fee, the police said. Those subscribing to the ‘worldwide membership’, meaning they could target victims internationally, paid between €250 and €350 a month.

In total, criminals were able to get hold of information about 500,000 credit cards  and 1.2 million passwords. The network was paid over €1 million since its creation in 2021.

Some 37 people were arrested worldwide, five Dutch nationals among them. The suspects, from Leeuwarden, Papendrechgt, Woudenberg and Veuten, are between 21 and 36 years old. Dutch police searched six homes and found 57 computers, phones and laptops, over 100 sim cards and five firearms.

More arrests are expected.

According to Europol, cybercrime-as-a-service has become a rapidly growing business model with crooks selling tools and expertise to other cybercriminals.

While this model is well established with ransomware groups, it has also been adopted in other aspects of cybercrime, such as phishing attacks, Europol said.

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