A joint operation of European law enforcement agencies and coordinated by Europol dismantled a criminal ring involved in investment fraud.

A joint investigation of European law enforcement agencies supported by Europol and Eurojust dismantled a large criminal network involved in investment fraud and money laundering. The operation, led by Germany, involved authorities from Bulgaria, Israel, Latvia, North-Macedonia, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.

The crime ring caused losses of approximately €30 million (US$36 million) to hundreds of victims, at least €7 million in losses in Germany alone.

The authorities arrested 11 people (5 in Bulgaria, 1 in Israel, and 5 in Spain) and searched dozen of locations were searched in Bulgaria, Israel, Poland, North Macedonia and Sweden. The agents seized numerous electronic devices, real estate, jewellery, high-end vehicles, and approximately €2 million in cash, authorities have also frozen multiple bank accounts controlled or owned by shell companies based in different EU countries that were used to launder illegal profits.

The crooks set up at least four online trading platforms that offered significant profits from investments in cryptocurrencies and high-risk options to potential investors. The crime ring published ads for the trading platforms on various social media platforms and search engines.

“The criminal network created different trading online platforms advertising substantial profits from investments in high-risk options and cryptocurrencies. The criminal group ran at least four of such professionally looking trading platforms, luring victims through advertisements in social media and search engines.” reads the press release published by the Europol. “The members of the criminal group were posing as experienced brokers when contacting the victims via the call centre they had set-up. The suspects were using manipulated software to show the gains from the investments and to motivate the victims to invest even more.”

According to the press release, 300 complaints were filed in Spain.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, PLA Unit 61419)

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