Authorities recently announced the takedown of a fraudulent network of call centers operating in serbia, bulgaria, cyprus, and germany. the network was found to have defrauded victims in germany, switzerland, austria, australia, and canada of tens of millions of euros. four call centers and 18 locations were searched, resulting in the arrest of 14 individuals in serbia and one in germany.
the investigation into the online scam began in 2021, with the public prosecutor’s office in stuttgart in germany and the state office of criminal investigations of baden-württemberg leading the charge. the coordinated action saw law enforcement interview more than 250 individuals and seize over 150 computers, various electronic equipment, and data back-ups, three hardware wallets that stored about $1 million in cryptocurrencies, three cars, two luxury apartments, and €50,000 ($54,000) in cash.
the criminals behind the network promoted the fraudulent schemes on social media to lure victims to websites that offered seemingly exceptional investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies. victims, mainly from germany, would first invest low, three-digit sums, with those behind the criminal network then persuading them to transfer higher amounts. allegedly, cyprus was the base for the criminals to launder the illegal proceedings. europol warned that the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher and that illegal gains generated by the criminal groups may be in the hundreds of millions of euros.