Supported by Eurojust and Europol, French authorities, in collaboration with Latvia and Spain, have taken action against an organised crime group (OCG) that used fraudulent software to duplicate keys and steal cars in France. In a coordinated action carried out in the three countries involved, sixteen suspects were arrested and twenty-two locations were searched.
The suspects allegedly produced and used fraudulent software to steal vehicles by duplicating the vehicles’ ignition keys. Marketed as an automotive diagnostic solution, the tool was able to replace the original software of the targeted vehicles without respecting the protocol and without the original key.
The perpetrators of the scam kept updating and adapting their software, to counteract the measures implemented by companies to reinforce the security of their vehicles.
In an action day coordinated by Eurojust on 10 October, 16 suspects were arrested in France, including the managers of the company that produced the software. A total of twenty-two locations were searched in the three countries involved.
More than EUR 100 000, as well as 12 bank accounts, real estate and 3 luxury cars were seized in France, together with the domain name of the website.
The case was opened at Eurojust by the French authorities in September 2022. The Agency actively facilitated cross-border judicial cooperation between the national authorities involved, including the organisation of the joint action day.
Europol has supported the investigation since March 2022 by providing extensive analysis and the dissemination of intelligence packages to each of the affected countries. Two operational meetings were held. A Europol mobile office was also deployed to France for the action day.
The following authorities took part in the operations:
- France: PPO JUNALCO (National jurisdiction against organised crime-Cybercrime unit) with the involvement of the PPO of Lyon, Montpellier, Lille, Douai, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Marseille, Bobigny and Grenoble; C3N (Gendarmerie Nationale) and Research Sections of the Gendarmerie from Lille, Versailles, Lyon, Marseille and Paris.
- Latvia: International Cooperation Department of the Central Criminal Police Department of the State Police of Latvia and 3rd Unit of the 2nd Bureau of the Criminal Police Department of the Riga Region Department of the State Police of Latvia (car thefts).
- Spain: Investigative Court num. 2 in Palma de Mallorca and International Cooperation Section at Balearic Islands PPO.