Law enforcement authorities in Italy and Albania have put a stop to a suspected cryptocurrency investment scam estimated at €15m ($16m).
During the joint investigation with the support of the European Union's cross-border agency for fighting organized crime, Eurojust, assets worth €3m were seized alongside more than 160 electronic devices, including computers, servers, cellphones and digital video recorders.
The organized group of thieves orchestrated their operation from a call centre in Tirana, Albania where victims were contacted via telephone using “unidentifiable virtual numbers and delocalised virtual private networks (VPNs)”.
They were asked to create an account on a particular portal and transfer over funds.
To gain the trust of the victims, the criminals allowed a secure and immediate financial gain against a small initial investment.
Then, the victims were contacted by ‘brokers’ that proposed profitable investments in cryptocurrencies with zero risk.
After that, the group encouraged these cryptocurrency holders to make far larger investments, and in some situations even their entire capital.
Once the larger deposits had been made, the fraudsters changed the account details and locked the owners out.
Scams involving cryptocurrency investments have been popular over the years. Criminals tend to seek out victims that are looking to make sizeable short-term financial gains amid the market decline.
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