Encrochat Encrypted Phone Service Busts Result in 6.5K Arrests, €900M Seized
Since law enforcement cracked the encrypted EncroChat phones three years ago, police around the world have arrested 6,558 organized crime suspects and seized cash and assets worth nearly a billion dollars, according to Europol.
The Europe-based service provider EncroChat sold modified smartphones that offered encrypted communication among subscribers and were mostly used by organized crime members to plan criminal activities.
The ongoing investigation into the communication network and its users started in 2017 after authorities discovered that EncroChat phones were regularly found during operations against organized criminal groups.
The seized sum of 900 million euros (US$985 million) so far includes over 739 million euros ($809.06 million) in cash and 154 million euros ($168.60 million) worth of now frozen assets and bank accounts.
Officials have also seized over 30.5 million pills of chemical drugs, 103.5 tonnes of cocaine, 163.4 tonnes of cannabis, and 3.3 tonnes of heroin, as well as 971 vehicles, 271 estates or homes, 923 weapons, 21,750 rounds of ammunition, 68 explosives, 83 boats, and 40 planes that were being used for criminal purposes.
EncroChat phones were presented as guaranteeing perfect anonymity, discretion, and no traceability to users.
The encrypted phone service had functions intended to ensure the automatic deletion of messages and a specific PIN code to delete all data on the device. This would allow users to quickly erase compromising messages, for example, at the time of arrest by the police.
According to Europol, the device could be erased remotely by the reseller/helpdesk. EncroChat sold the crypto telephones for around 1,000 euros ($1,094.80) each and offered subscriptions with worldwide coverage for 1,500 euros ($1,642.16) for a six-month period, with 24/7 support.
The majority of EncroChat users were found in countries with high levels of organized crime, particularly those involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.