EU Criminal Justice Agency raids property and uncovers €15m crypto scam

The EU’s criminal justice agency, EuroJust, has carried out raids across Europe to bust a crypto scam that caused €15 million in losses.

EU goes after cryptocurrency investment scam

EuroJust worked with authorities in Italy and Albania to thwart an online crypto investment scam and seized €3 million worth of assets. The agency noted that the online investment fraud was carried out by a syndicate of criminal groups based in these countries.

The organized crime group operated from a call center in Tirana. The group used VPNs and untraceable virtual phone numbers to contact victims by phone. After asking victims to register on a portal, they collect the transferred money and reset the newly created account. Once done, the group embezzles the money and disappears.

EuroJust detailed the method used:

The suspects would have contacted the victim by telephone using an unidentified virtual number and a delocalized virtual private network. They asked the victim to create an account on the portal. , once the transfer was completed, he reset the newly created account, subtracted the amount received and made it untraceable.

The perpetrators gained the trust of their victims by enabling them to get immediate financial returns for a small initial investment. After consulting a supposedly reliable online trading platform, victims were approached by “brokers” offering lucrative, risk-free cryptocurrency investments.

The gang then logged into the victim’s savings account, asking them to put their savings into the scam.

Crypto scam

BTC/USD trades at $16,844 on 6-month chart. Source: TradingView

In the final stages, the victim was contacted by other gang members and persuaded to invest more to recover the lost funds. From current estimates, the loss resulting from the scam is a total of 15 million euros. The raids were conducted in 13 locations in Albania. Seized 160 electronic devices and 11 goods.

Crypto scams have grown since 2020

According to New York-based cryptocurrency trading watchdog Solidus Labs, 2 million people have been victims of crypto scams since September 2022.

The report found that five centralized exchanges had more than $1 billion in exposure to these scams. 17 cryptocurrency exchanges had exposure of over $100 million and 93 exchanges had exposure of $1 million.

crypto scam

Crypto scams by exchanges. Source: Solidus

The report noted:

Almost all major cryptocurrency exchanges are affected. These exchanges are required to prevent money laundering under regulatory regimes in each jurisdiction where they operate. In addition, they face additional regulatory requirements in many jurisdictions regarding investor protection and market abuse prevention.

Solidus claims that 2022 became the year honeypots were the most successful crypto scams. Squid Game token scam grew 45,000% in days and ended with anonymous founders running away with thousands of dollars of investor funds.

Featured image from Patch, chart from TradingView.com

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