Authorities have dismantled a crypto fraud operation operating out of Bulgaria, Cyprus and Serbia which defrauded victims of “at least tens of millions of euros,” Eurojust, the European Union’s cross-border agency for fighting organized crime, have said.
The bust saw four call centers and 18 other places searched, with 14 people arrested in Serbia and one in Germany, according to an announcement on Friday.
“The network operated professionally to set up call centres, which defrauded numerous victims in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and Canada for at least tens of millions of euros,” Eurojust said.
“Overall, more than 250 persons were interviewed and over 150 computers, various electronic equipment and data back-ups, three cars, two luxury apartments and $1 million in cryptocurrencies and 50 000 euros in cash were seized,”
The operation involved attracting potential investors online, contacting them by phone and luring them into making small investment which made initial gains. Victims were then encouraged to invest more money, which they subsequently lost.
The criminals operated the call centers from Serbia, using technological infrastructure in Bulgaria and laundered the proceeds in Cyprus.
Investment scams involving crypto are often popular with criminal networks as they can target victims seeking to make sizeable short-term financial gains. In December, authorities in Italy and Albania busted a suspected crypto investment scam that was estimated to have netted 15 million euros ($16 million) in this way.