On Monday, January 23, the Amsterdam police arrested three men in an extensive investigation into computer trespass, data theft, extortion, blackmail and money laundering. Due to the investigation, the news was only released on Thursday.
The main suspect in the case is a 21-year-old man from Zandvoort. Two co-defendants are a 21-year-old man from Rotterdam and an 18-year-old man without a fixed abode. Two of them are in full restrictions, meaning they can only have contact with their lawyer.
Names and addresses
The suspects were in possession of tens of millions of privacy-sensitive data from people that, according to the police, have fallen into the hands of criminals. This not only concerns names, addresses and telephone numbers, but also dates of birth, bank account numbers, credit cards, passwords, license plates, citizen service numbers or passport data.
The police cybercrime team started the investigation in March 2021 following a report of data theft and blackmail at a large Dutch company. Gradually it became apparent that probably thousands of national and international companies have fallen victim to computer intrusion (hacking) in recent years and subsequently theft and handling of data.
After the hackers gained access to data from the companies, they received a threatening e-mail that payment had to be made in bitcoins. If not, threats were made to destroy the company’s digital infrastructure and make the data public. Many companies eventually paid. As far as we know, the ransom demanded per company has risen to more than 100,000 euros and an outlier to more than 700,000 euros.
2.5 million profit
In addition, in many cases, the stolen data is still sold online, even though the affected companies have paid. The main suspect has probably had a criminal income of 2.5 million euros in recent years, the police report.
In November 2022, a 25-year-old suspect from Almere was already arrested in the investigation, who is suspected of hacking a company that collects viewing and listening fees in Austria. The data of all residents of Austria was probably stolen and offered for sale.