Major Cybercrime Crackdown: Two Arrested in Ireland

International Operation Targets Phishing and Smishing Fraud Platform

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  • Two men arrested in Ireland as part of global operation against cyberfraud.
  • Europol shuts down LabHost, a platform used for phishing and smishing scams.
  • Searches across Dublin, Waterford, and Kildare lead to significant seizures including cash and electronics.
  • Operation Stargrew involves 19 law enforcement agencies worldwide, with 37 arrests so far.
  • The crackdown reveals over 150,000 instances of people responding to fraudulent links.

In a sweeping international effort named Operation Stargrew, Irish police have recently arrested two individuals linked to a major online fraud scheme.

This operation targeted ‘LabHost‘, an illicit web-based service that facilitated widespread internet scams through phishing (fraudulent emails) and “smishing” (fraudulent text messages).

The Raid and Seizures

According to The Irish Examiner, on Wednesday, coordinated searches were conducted at twelve properties across Dublin, Waterford, and Kildare by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

These efforts were supported by multiple units including the Armed Support Unit and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau among others.

During these operations, authorities seized €42,000 in cash along with €10,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

They also confiscated numerous electronic devices such as 82 smartphones and 25 computers which are were used in cybercrimes.


LabHost commoditised phishing attacks by providing a service that made it easy for cybercriminals to carry out phishing campaigns without needing advanced technical skills.

The platform offered a range of features, including phishing kits, hosting services, and a user-friendly interface, making it simple for users to create and deploy phishing attacks.

Global Impact of Local Crimes

The investigation revealed that approximately 116 users of the now-defunct LabHost platform were operating from or connected to Ireland.

These criminals primarily targeted locals but also reached victims in countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand among others.

According to Europol’s findings shared during their announcement about shutting down LabHost’s services—replaced by an official seizure notice—the site allowed criminals easy access to tools needed for conducting large-scale scam operations.

Major Cybercrime Crackdown: Two Arrested in Ireland
A Europol seizure notice on the LabHost site. Picture: Europol

Europol emphasized that while platforms like LabHost might appear user-friendly for even unskilled hackers; using them for malicious purposes is illegal with potentially severe consequences.

A vast amount of data collected during this extensive investigation will assist ongoing international efforts aimed at apprehending those who misuse such technologies for fraud.

Operation Stargrew highlights not only the complex nature of modern cybercrimes but also demonstrates effective collaboration among international law enforcement agencies striving to combat these digital threats globally.


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