Israeli police conducted a nationwide operation Wednesday to bust an alleged Israel-based international fraud syndicate suspected of tricking companies into parting with tens of millions of dollars.
Spreading out over the country, officers arrested 20 people for fraud, deception, blackmail, forgery, conspiracy, tax crimes, operation of a crime organization and money laundering, police said.
The alleged syndicate is suspected carried out a scheme called social engineering, which involves impersonating company employees online to get other members of that company to wire them money, according to police. The targets were asked to wire cash to a bank account overseas, which was then forwarded to criminals in Israel after laundering via front companies and individuals, police said.
According to police, the methods used by the syndicate have been gaining ground in recent years, and created unprecedented damage to Israel’s image, casting it as the export hub for crimes of fraud of this kind.
A statement said police had been secretly conducting a complex investigation for more than 18 months, together with the tax authorities, the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, and prosecutors in Tel Aviv.