Cross-border crypto scammers blacklisted by EU agencies
In late 2022, scammers focused on tricking crypto investors who were desperate to recoup their year-long losses. An international law enforcement operation led by European government agencies joined crypto entrepreneurs and businesses to combat cross-border crypto scams since July 2022, uncovering a criminal network operating through call centers.
Europol and Eurojust, two EU agencies for law enforcement cooperation, have joined authorities in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany and Serbia in investigating online investment fraud since June 2022. investigation identified a criminal network that suffered losses of more than $2.1 million, mostly to German investors.
Call centers selling fake crypto have been busted in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Cyprus.
Criminal organizations tricked victims into investing over $2 million in fake crypto investment websites.
— Europol (@Europol) January 12, 2023
According to Europol, the scammers lured victims – from Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Canada, among others – to invest in bogus crypto investment programs and websites. This observation eventually led to the creation of an operational working group for the cross-border investigation.
Operating out of four call centers in Eastern Europe, the scammers lured potential victims by offering lucrative profits on small investments, motivating them to make larger investments. Given the number of unreported cases, Europol suspects that the total losses could amount to hundreds of millions of euros.
During the investigation, 261 people – two in Bulgaria, two in Cyprus, three in Germany and 214 in Serbia – were questioned, 22 places in the EU were searched and 30 people were arrested. Hardware wallets, cash, vehicles, electronic equipment and documents were also seized.
While scammers continue to impersonate government authorities and businesses, the crypto community maintains a proactive approach to weakening scammers through proactive warning announcements, hack preventive patches and educate the general public.
A report by bug bounty and security services platform Immunefi has revealed that the the crypto industry lost a total of $3.9 billion in 2022.
Of the lot, 95.6% of the total loss was attributed to hacks, while fraud, scams and sweepstakes accounted for the remaining 4.4%. BNB Chain and Ethereum were the most targeted blockchains.
Mitchell Amador, CEO of Immunefi, suggested “proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities” to protect the community and restore trust among investors.