Scams and frauds in crypto have been growing every passing day. The increasing stats have concerned investors, regulators as well as lawmakers.
In a recent revelation, the European Union’s (EU) criminal justice agency, Eurojust, has carried out raids across the continent to break down a crypto scam responsible for losses worth €15 million (around $15,948,375).
The criminal justice agency worked with the authorities of Italy and Albania to tackle the ongoing online investment crypto scam and also succeeded in seizing assets worth €3 million (around $3,191,550). The raids were conducted in 13 locations in Albania, and about 160 electronic devices and 11 assets were seized.
Eurojust noted in their investigation that online investment fraud was being executed by an association of crime groups based in these locations.
According to the sources, the alleged criminal group operated out of a call center in Tirana, the capital of Albania. It used virtual private networks (VPNs) and untraceable phone numbers to communicate with the victims and lure them over the phone.
They would then ask their victims to register on a portal. They would collect the money transferred and reset the newly created account following the registration. The victims then had no access to their apparent portal or their funds. The alleged group would then steal the money and disappear.
Eurojust briefed that:
“The suspects allegedly contacted the victim by phone 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, reset the newly created account, embezzled the received amount, and made it untraceable.”
According to the sources, the accused won the victims’ trust by making them have returns on small investments made in the starting phase. Then, after being satisfied, the users were contracted by mediators called “brokers,” who offered them luring returns on investment in cryptocurrencies with minimal risks.
The accused then accessed the victim’s bank accounts and asked them to keep investing in their apparent investment plans. In the end stages, the victims were told to invest more to recover their funds lost.
Todayq News reported an approximately 41% rise in the creation of scam crypto tokens this year, and about 2 million people have fallen prey to it since September 2022.
Earlier this year, the National Police of Ukraine (NPU) exposed one of the biggest international crypto scams involving five Ukrainian citizens. The estimated annual losses from the scam crossed over €200 million ($207 million).
The operation was a collaborative effort of NPU’s main investigation department, the prosecutor general’s office of the country and Europol, the European Union agency for law enforcement cooperation, and Eurojust, the judicial cooperation body of the EU.