European Agency arrests 15 people and seized 1Mn USD worth crypto assets

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) made an announcement about striking on online scams involved in the illicit activities. Surprisingly, the network operating these scams using the call centers has its roots all across Europe. 

As per the report, Europol elaborated that the actions were executed earlier after June last year when the investigation started. German authorities requested the agency for the probing. Europol collaborated with authorities across countries and with their help managed to raid about 22 locations from Bulgaria, Cyprus to Serbia. By the end of this operation, 15 individuals got arrested–one from Germany while the other 14 from Serbia. 

Along with the arrests, the operation was successful in terms of confiscating about 1 million USD with cryptocurrencies in three wallets while 50,000 euro worth cash. In addition, seized items include three vehicles, electronic equipment, some crucial information with backups and other such documents, the report added. 

Following the belief that there could be more call centers in connection with the said criminal network, the investigation is still continuing. 

According to Europol, the criminal organization used a cryptocurrency pyramid scam to mislead victims by promising “seemingly outstanding” returns on their investments. With the help of just four contact centers, the network was able to seize hundreds of millions of euros. However, a large number of victims opted not to notify law authorities, making it challenging to estimate the losses.

In order to acquire the trust of their victims, the fraudsters would first ask for small quantities of money, usually in the three-digit range. As the connection became closer, the scam artists persuaded the victims to send more money each time, up until they had enough money to stop communicating.

Several international authorities are collaborating with Europol to “keep ahead of individuals who abuse crypto-assets to conduct crimes and launder money,” according to the agency’s report.

Although the privacy and decentralized properties of cryptocurrencies have made them appealing to criminals, Europol pointed out that their usage in criminal activity only accounts for a minuscule portion of crimes involving fiat money, when compared to the quantity of criminal funds used in traditional finance, the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal purposes seems to make up a relatively modest portion of the bitcoin economy.

Nancy J. Allen
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