Cross-border crypto fraudsters on the EU agencies’ kill list

By the end of 2022, fraudsters focused on defrauding crypto investors who were desperately trying to recoup their annual losses. An international law enforcement operation led by European government agencies has joined crypto entrepreneurs and companies in cracking down on cross-border crypto fraud since July 2022, uncovering a criminal network operating through call centers.

Europol and Eurojust, the EU’s two agencies for law enforcement cooperation, joined authorities from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany and Serbia in investigating online investment fraud from June 2022. The investigation identified a criminal network that suffered more than 2.1 million dollars in losses — primarily to German investors.

According to Europol, the scammers lured victims — from Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Canada, among others — into investing in fake crypto investment schemes and websites. This discovery eventually led to the creation of an operational task force focused on cross-border investigation.

Operating in four call centers in Eastern Europe, the fraudsters lured potential victims by offering lucrative profits on small investments, which motivated them to make larger investments. Considering the number of unreported cases, Europol suspects that the total losses could amount to hundreds of millions of euros.

In the investigation, 261 people were questioned — two in Bulgaria, two in Cyprus, three in Germany and 214 in Serbia, 22 locations 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 agencies and companies, the crypto community maintains a proactive approach to weakening scammers through proactive warning announcements, preventative hack fixes, and public education.

Related: $3.9 Billion Lost in Cryptocurrency Market in 2022: Report

A report by bug bounty platform and security service Immunefi revealed that the crypto industry will lose a total of $3.9 billion in 2022.

Of the total, 95.6% of the total loss was attributed to hacking, while scams, scams and withdrawals 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 rebuild trust among investors.