The criminal network operated through call centers and lured victims into investing vast amounts of money into fake cryptocurrency schemes.
The police made 15 arrests, questioned over 260 individuals, and searched four call centers and over a dozen residences.
The criminal network stretched through Germany, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus.
Law enforcement seized three hardware wallets with over $1 million in cryptocurrencies on them and over 50,000 euros in cash, as well as three vehicles, electronic equipment, data back-ups, and documents.
“The suspects used advertisements on social networks to lure victims to websites covertly operated by the criminals, which offered seemingly exceptional investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies,” Europol said.
“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 estimated that the financial damage to German citizens is over 2 million euros. Residents of Switzerland, Australia, and Canada have also been lured into the trap.
“This would mean that the illegal gains generated by the criminal groups, with at least four call centers in eastern Europe, may be in the hundreds of millions of euros,” Europol said.
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