Europol Arrest Crypto Currency Fraud Gang

European law enforcement agencies collaborated and took down a take down a multimillion dollar crypto currency fraud group, making multiple arrests. The operation was coordinated by Europol and targeted individuals associated with a large scale crypto-currency investment fraud scheme. 

“The suspects used advertisements on social networks to lure victims to websites covertly operated by the criminals, which offered seemingly exceptional investment opportunities in crypto currencies... The victims, mainly from Germany, would first invest low, three-digit sums. Fake price hikes leading to supposedly lucrative profits for investors then persuaded them to make transfers of higher amounts,” Europol said.

Those arrested include 14 individuals in Serbia and one in Germany, as well as 261 additional individuals questioned about their involvement. The majority of the action occurred on January 11, when 22 locations were searched including private homes and call centers. Europol stated that the fraud group used advertisements posted to social media networks aiming to lure victims to websites operated by cyber criminals. The posts advertised risk free or exceptional investment opportunities related to crypto currency.  

The total amount stolen in the fraud is estimated to be around $2 million. The majority of the victims are located in Germany, but additional cases were identified in Switzerland, Australia, and Canada.

The coordinated action by Europol saw law enforcement interview more than 250 individuals and seize over 150 computers, various electronic equipment, and data back-ups, three hardware wallets that stored about $1 million in crypto-currencies, three cars, two luxury apartments, and €50,000 ($54,000) in cash.

Criminal groups may have made hundreds of millions of Euros as a result of fraudulent schemes which use fake bank call center scammers to persuade victims to part with their cash and call centre fraud is an increasingly popular way for criminals to social engineer their victims.

Crypto scams are popular with criminals, largely because they can get victims to invest large amounts of money, playing on most victims' ignorance about crypto and uneven lack of adequate crypto regulation.

Europol:      Sophos:     Benzinga:    Oodaloop:    Infosecurity Magazine:     Yahoo:   

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