Cybercrime Orgs Increasingly Use Human Trafficking to Staff Scam Mills

Cybercrime Orgs Increasingly Use Human Trafficking to Staff Scam Mills

December 11, 2023 at 05:42PM

Interpol launches Operation Storm Makers II, targeting cyber-fraud operations involved in human trafficking across Asia and beyond. The crackdown led to 281 arrests and the rescue of 149 trafficking victims, with 360 new investigations opened. The spread of these insidious activities has prompted calls for global collaboration, including from nonprofit organizations and cybersecurity experts.

During the meeting, Interpol announced Operation Storm Makers II, a collaborative effort involving 27 Asian countries to combat cyber-fraud operations engaging in human trafficking. The operation resulted in the arrest of 281 perpetrators and the rescue of 149 trafficking victims. Additionally, 360 new investigations were opened as a result of the information gathered from the arrests.

The human cost of these cyber-scam centers is on the rise, with the modus operandi spreading beyond Southeast Asia to other continents, including Latin America.

Last August, the United Nations report indicated that cybercrime operations were responsible for holding thousands of human trafficking victims in countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Nonprofits are urging the cybersecurity community to assist in tracking down victims of human trafficking associated with cyber scams worldwide. This includes Civil Cyber Defenders who leverage academic resources, OSINT skills, and free/open-source tools to support vulnerable nonprofits, protect volunteers, journalists, and activists, and defend human rights.

At Black Hat USA 2023, attorney and cybersecurity expert Tiffany Rad and Traverse Project founder Austin Shamblin emphasized the need for more Civil Cyber Defenders and urged infosec experts to help protect the privacy and identity of those involved in tracking down human traffickers. They highlighted that members of a student-volunteer lab at the University of California at Berkeley tracking human trafficking with the Traverse Project were recently targeted in a sophisticated Pegasus spyware attack.

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