12 men arrested for series of banking-related malware cases: $13k cash, drugs, knife seized

Twelve men, aged between 21 and 36, have been arrested for their suspected involvement in a series of banking-related malware cases.

The arrests were made following multiple reports received by the police between June and August 2023, regarding unauthorised transactions from victims' bank accounts, despite victims not sharing their one-time passwords.

The police identified the 12 men believed to be part of a money-laundering syndicate responsible for these cases.

On Sept 27 and 28, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department and Police Intelligence Department carried out an enforcement operation at various locations across the island, leading to the arrests.

The operation resulted in the seizure of more than $13,000 in cash, two laptops, 32 bank cards, 23 mobile devices, drug paraphernalia and a knife. Additionally, 60 bank accounts were frozen to prevent further misuse.

The suspects are currently under investigation for a range of offences, including assisting others to retain benefits from criminal conduct, possession and consumption of controlled drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, unlawful possession of an offensive weapon, unauthorised access to computer material and membership in an unlawful society and locally-linked organised criminal group.

Six of the men will be charged in court on Sept 29, for transferring gains from criminal activities. If found guilty, they could face a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.

The police will be seeking a court order for their remand for further investigations. Investigations against the other six men are ongoing.

The public is cautioned against downloading applications from third-party or dubious sites, which can result in malware being installed on their mobile phones, computers, and other digital devices. Such malware can lead to the theft of confidential and sensitive data, such as banking credentials.

The public is also advised to reject requests by others to use their bank accounts or mobile lines, as they could be held accountable if these are found to be linked to illegal activities.

The police will continue to take stringent enforcement action against those involved in banking-related malware cases and ensure that they face severe legal consequences.

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