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Swedes Fooled by Online Mafia

They're calling it the biggest swindle ever.

Members of an east European crime organisation recruited Swedes through ICQ and electronic mail and carried out one of the biggest swindles of its kind ever, damaging Swedish bank Nordea and 250 customers to the tune of £600000.

Recruits, lured with the prospect of 'employment' with what may have seemed to be a 'legitimate' company, turned over their own bank accounts to the swindlers. Other account holders were then sent phishing mail. The swindlers picked up the money in their recruits' 'goalie' accounts and moved it via Western Union and other wire transfer services to Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Moldavia, the Ukraine, and other countries.

On another ironic note Nordea's website was offline yesterday. Spokesman Boo Ehlin at Nordea said it had something to do with the 'telephone lines'.

125 Suspects

Two Swedes were arraigned today in Stockholm and police are investigating another 125, approximately half of which have been informed they're under suspicion. Many of the suspects speak Russian but most of them are ordinary people who've never before been involved in criminal activity. After several twists and turns they agreed to be 'goalies' for the swindlers by letting them have access to their private bank accounts. In turn they received commissions of most often 5-10%.

'The 'goalies' were spread about the country and the money flowed east', said Lilian Brunn of the Stockholm county police. Suspects revealed during questioning that they received mail from what appeared to be legitimate companies offering them employment.

Others were recruited through ICQ, says Brunn. Most often with an initial offer to purchase goods from Eastern Europe.

The swindlers would claim it's easier to use private bank accounts and their employment was a question of assisting in moving the money, but many of those involved admit they understood they were doing something illegal.

The police were able to follow the money and see how it was moved first from Nordea, then into the 'goalie' accounts, then through Western Union and other wire transfer services to Russia, Moldavia, Latvia, Estonia, the Ukraine, and other countries.

Nordea admit now they've known of this criminal activity for some time but chose to not inform the public.

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