Eurojust and Europol collaborated to dismantle a cryptocurrency fraud network operating out of Bulgaria, Cyprus and Serbia.
The fraud network set up call centers that defrauded victims in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and Canada, allegedly stealing tens of millions of euros.
Eurojust is the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation and Europol helps European Union countries combat international and organized crime, cybercrime and terrorism.
What Happened: The joint operation searched four call centers and 18 other locations, and more than 250 workplaces were identified in Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Germany leading to the arrest of 14 people in Serbia and one in Germany.
More than 250 people were interviewed and more than 150 computers, electronic equipment, data back-ups, three cars, two luxury apartments, $1 million U.S. dollars of cryptocurrencies and 50,000 euros were seized.
In a press release, the joint operation said the number of victims identified is "almost certainly only the tip of the iceberg.”
Investigations by Eurojust and Europol found the fraudulent call center scheme ran high volumes of financial transactions. The organized crime group cooperated with call centers in Serbia, used technological infrastructure in Bulgaria and allegedly laundered money in Cyprus.
The scammers used call banks with scammers speaking in English and German and online ads to lure victims into making small investments. The victims made small initial gains which led them to invest more money, which they lost. Authorities in Serbia found and closed the call centers.
A team of 33 German police officers coordinated actions in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Serbia because the majority of the crypto-investing victims live in Germany.
Crypto scams are popular with criminals because they can get victims to invest large amounts of money, playing on the victim’s desire for gain, a lack of understanding about crypto and uneven and often inadequate crypto regulation.
In late December, law enforcement in Italy and Albania busted an alleged crypto investment scam operation estimated to have stolen 15 million euros ($16 million).
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