Europol Arrests 15 People In Connection With Crypto Ponzi Scheme

Recently, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) announced a successful operation that saw the collapse of an international criminal organization that engages in crypto scams via call centers. The agency discovered that this criminal organization has branches throughout Europe.

Europol reports that the operation took place on January 11, 2023, following an investigation initiated in June 2022 at the request of the German authorities. Europol, in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies of other countries, carried out raids in 22 locations between Bulgaria and Cyprus, as well as Serbia.

The investigation into this matter led to the arrest of 15 people, 14 of whom were Serbia residents and one resident in Germany.

Europol Seizes Physical Wallet Containing $1 Million In Cryptocurrencies 

In addition to the arrests, the authorities took possession of three physical wallets containing around one million dollars worth of cryptocurrency and approximately €50K.

They also grabbed three vehicles, various computer parts, vital data backups, and other papers. The investigation continues because the criminal network has call centers besides those searched.

According to Europol, the criminal network was involved in the operation of a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. In this plan, the criminals resorted to defrauding victims by luring them in with the promise of enormous and guaranteed rewards from imaginary crypto investments.

Only four of the network’s call centers were used successfully, bringing in hundreds of millions of Euros in revenue. However, a significant number of victims decided that they won’t report the crime to the appropriate authorities, which makes it challenging to estimate the scale of the damages.

In order to acquire their victims’ trust, the scammers used a method of operation that initially requested modest amounts of money, which were often in the range of three digits.

After establishing a personal relationship, the fraudsters would convince their victims to give larger amounts of money until they had enough to end their scheme and stop communicating. According to Europol, German criminals stole at least two million Euros from unsuspecting victims.

Using Crypto-Currencies For Terrible Deeds

Europol continues collaborations with numerous foreign authorities to stop criminals and money launderers from using crypto-assets. Europol added that cryptocurrencies are attractive to criminals due to their privacy and decentralization. However, their use in criminal operations is negligible compared to fiat money crimes.

The illicit use of cryptocurrency is gaining attention from governments worldwide. The US government has shut down cryptocurrency platforms that enable crime. The US government sanctioned the cryptocurrency mixer “Tornado Cash” because criminals used it to disguise their transactions, while other centralized exchanges have had similar issues.

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