July 24, 2024

A global police crackdown, spread across 61 countries, struck a significant financial blow to online scam networks. The operation entailed freezing 6,745 bank accounts, halting the those involved in organized crime, and seizing assets to the tune of USD 257 million.

Operation First Light 2024 led to the arrests of 3,950 suspects and identified 14,643 others as potential suspects worldwide. With a focus on various forms of fraud including phishing, investment fraud, and scams involving fake online shopping sites, romance, and impersonation, the operation made a significant dent in the illicit activities online.

The police intercepted approximately USD 135 million in fiat currency (government-regulated currency) and USD 2 million in cryptocurrency. The seized assets also included items like high-end vehicles, real estate, expensive jewellery, and other items of high value, totalling to over USD 120 million.

Operation First Light 2024 resulted in the arrest of 3,950 suspects globally, including in the Philippines.

Among multitude of suspects arrested in Hong Kong, China, to combat various form of scams including phishing and investment fraud.

As part of Operation First Light 2024, Brazilian Federal Police seized a range assets from suspected scammers, including luxury brand products, expensive jewelry, laptops and phones.

The police utilized INTERPOL’s Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP) mechanism to trace and intercept illicit money, both in fiat and cryptocurrency. This facilitated, for instance, interception of USD 331,000 in a case of business email compromise fraud involving a Spanish victim and a party in Hong Kong, China.

In another governmental stride, Australian authorities successfully recovered AUD 5.5 million (USD 3.7 million) for a victim of an impersonation scam.

Dr Isaac Kehinde Oginni, Director of INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC), noted that results of the global operation went beyond impressive numbers and were suggestive of prevented crimes, protected lives and a bolstered global economy.

INTERPOL’s operations were supported by China’s Ministry of Public Security, and the operation witnessed significant achievements such as dismantling of a sophisticated international scam network in the capital of Namibia and rescue of 88 local youngsters trapped into the scams.

Operation First Light, initiated in 2023 and concluded in May 2024, effectively mitigated susceptibility to these crimes on a global scale, requiring international cooperation, as these crimes do not discriminate by geography.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the impact of Operation First Light 2024?

Operation First Light 2024 led to the halting of numerous online scam networks by freezing 6,745 bank accounts and seizing assets worth USD 257 million. Around 3,950 suspects were arrested, and another 14,643 were identified as potential suspects. The operation had a significant impact on financial crimes and scams taking place online.

How were the seizures and interceptions achieved?

INTERPOL used its Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP) mechanism to trace and intercept ill-gotten funds, both in fiat currency and cryptocurrency. This was instrumental in the success of the operation, enabling the police to intercept large amounts of money rendered as proceeds of crime.

What kinds of scams and frauds were targeted in this operation?

Operation First Light targeted a wide spectrum of online fraudulent activities, such as phishing, investment fraud, scams involving fake online shopping sites, impersonation, and romance scams. These scams are typically carried out with a high degree of sophistication, exploiting unsuspecting victims around the world.