An international gang may have harmed hundreds of thousands of investors with bogus crypto deals. The Spanish police have broken up the fraud ring after several years of investigations.
After the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX, the industry has to cope with another depressing news. The Spanish police, in cooperation with the authorities in Germany and other European countries, have busted an international gang that is said to have stolen an estimated 2.4 billion euros from fraudulent trading in cryptocurrencies.
According to the Spanish police unit Guardia Civil, the total number of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands. According to current knowledge, more than 17,000 investors have been tricked in Spain alone. Apparently, the gang was directed from Albania. On November 8 and 9, Spanish officials there, in cooperation with the country’s authorities, arrested the two suspected gang leaders. Investigations are underway against 16 other suspects, it said.
The call center in Kyiv closed
According to the Guardia Civil, it worked with the Catalan police Mossos D’Esquadra and with the authorities of several other countries – including Albania and Germany, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Ukraine, and Georgia. In the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, for example, a call center involved with around 800 employees was closed.
The reason for the investigation was the complaint of an elderly woman in Catalonia in 2018 who was cheated out of 800,000 euros. The victims of the scam were called from call centers in Albania and other countries, according to the Guardia Civil. The callers “pretended to be well versed in the financial world. They manipulated their victims with persuasion techniques and promised high profits,” explains a spokesman. Many would have trusted the gang and, above all, transferred ever larger sums for alleged transactions with cryptocurrencies.
The number of victims in Germany is still unclear.
The criminals often succeeded in installing remote access software on the victims’ computers. “We estimate that the gang earned around 400 euros per minute,” it said.
Many of the gang’s employees apparently had no knowledge of the criminal background. Therefore, they should not be held accountable by the authorities of the respective country, a police spokesman said. How many victims there may have been in Germany and other countries is not yet known.