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CRIME

Spanish police help bust cybercrime ring

Spanish police and Europol last week detained ten people on the Costa del Sol in an operation targeting a Russia-based cybercrime ring.

Spanish police help bust cybercrime ring
Cybercrime is a growing problem worldwide. Photo: CollegeDegrees360

The cyber-scammers infected millions of computers with a so-called 'ransomware' virus that accused victims of viewing child pornography and demanded a fine payment, officials said Wednesday. 

The virus locked computers in over 30 countries, mostly in Europe, and it demanded payment of a fine of €100 to return control to usersEuropol director Rob Wainwright told a news conference in Madrid.

The message generated by the virus used the logo of the national police force and the language of the country where the computer was based, he added.

"This is an example of the evolving nature of cybercrime online, of how cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated," Wainwright said.

Police detained 10 people – six Russians, two Ukrainians and two Georgians – last week on Spain's Costa del Sol as part of the investigation, said Spain's secretary of state for security, Francisco Martinez.

The suspected author of the virus and the leader of the operation, a 27-year-old Russian national, was detained in Dubai in December, he added.

The investigation remains open and further arrests are likely, he said.

The authorities said the group raised millions of euros with its scam but could not yet offer a precise amount.

About three percent of those whose computers were infected by the virus paid the fine that was demanded.

Ransomware viruses, which try to make victims pay an on-the-spot fine, are becoming more prevalent but most strains simply accuse people of pirating movies or music. Others scramble data that is only unscrambled when a fee is paid.

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CRIME

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The Moroccan suspect held in connection with a machete attack on two Spanish churches, killing a verger and badly injuring a priest, will undergo psychiatric testing, a court said Tuesday.

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The case is being handled by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, with the judge in charge asking that “two doctors conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the suspect”.

The suspect, 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, was arrested at the scene after the attacks on two churches in the southern town of Algeciras last week.

The Audiencia Nacional said the psychiatric evaluation, which will be carried out by doctors from the court’s forensic department, would provide “information about the legal responsibility” of the “presumed jihadist”.

Prosecutors have opened a terror probe and, on Monday, the court remanded the suspect in custody without bail on murder and terrorism charges.

During the deadly incident on January 26th, the suspect entered San Isidro church and attacked its priest with a machete, leaving him seriously wounded before entering Nuestra SeƱora de La Palma.

There he attacked the verger and chased him out of the church where he killed him.

‘Targeted priests and infidels’

Court details released on Monday said the attacker had also injured three other people, including another Moroccan man whom he “considered an infidel” because he had renounced his faith.

It said Kanjaa’s actions could be “qualified as a jihadist attack directed at both priests who profess the Catholic faith, and Muslims who, according to the suspect, don’t follow the Koran”.

The court said the suspect fits the profile of a “self-indoctrinated terrorist who acts individually without direct ties to a specific terror group but operates in the name of jihadist philosophy”.

Last week, Spain’s left-wing government refused to rule out mental illness and the police have described him as “unstable”.

The court said Kanjaa became indoctrinated “rapidly” within the space of up to six weeks, citing witnesses as telling police that just before that, he “was drinking alcohol and smoking hashish”. Then he suddenly started listening “regularly to the Koran on his mobile phone”.

One of Kanjaa’s neighbours told AFP something similar on Friday, saying he had changed radically six weeks ago, growing a beard and wearing a long robe.

Officials have said Kanjaa was served with a deportation order last June but had no prior convictions and was not under surveillance.

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