• 15 suspects were arrested in a large-scale crypto scam bust involving call center networks
• The criminal gangs allegedly stole hundreds of millions of euros from victims by selling counterfeit digital currencies
• Victims from Germany and other nations have reportedly lost more than 2 million euros in the fraudulent scheme
European law enforcement agencies have announced the shutdown of a large-scale crypto scam involving call center networks and the arrest of 15 suspected individuals. The operation, which was conducted on January 11th, 2023, saw the collaboration of Europol, the national law enforcement of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Serbia and resulted in raids in 22 different sites.
The criminal gangs operating the fraudulent call centers had employed 200 ‘traders’ who preyed on targets using languages such as English, Russian, Polish, Hindi, and German to offer deceptive investment options in cryptocurrencies and commodities, defrauding their victims of at least 3,000,000 euros per month. According to Europol, the traders were executing a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme in which they attracted victims via social media by offering “seemingly outstanding” bitcoin investments with the promise of substantial and guaranteed earnings.
The investigation was initiated after German authorities requested Europol to look into the matter in June of last year. Europol, in collaboration with the national law enforcement of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Serbia, launched raids on the 22 sites and arrested 15 people, 14 of them in Serbia and one in Germany. Investigators believe that German victims have lost more than 2 million euros, but disclosed that victims from other nations have also fallen prey to the fraudsters.
The Europol press release stated that, “This extensive operation has demonstrated the effectiveness of international collaboration and is a clear warning to criminals that law enforcement will work together to disrupt their operations and bring them to justice.”
The crimes of fraud and money laundering that have been committed by the criminal gangs are punishable by up to 10 years in prison in some countries. As such, Europol urges the public to be vigilant when investing in cryptocurrency and to always check the legitimacy of any investment opportunity.