The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) and Europol have worked with several European countries to take down a fraudulent online German investment platform.
The platform scammed victims for at least €15m (£13m, $17m).
Eurojust said in a statement: “The main suspect ran a professional-looking trading site in so-called binary options, which projected high profits. After initial investments, victims were encouraged to pay more into the alleged investment fund, losing all of their money. During an action day, one suspect has been arrested and eight places were searched.”
The scammers operated between May 2019 and September 2021 and attracted mainly German investors with online adverts and social media.
After the initial investigations, clients were approached by alleged financial advisers, who showed fake online graphs of rising profits. For this purpose, call centres were set up in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Ukraine, with German-speaking operators.
Also, a system of special algorithms and over 250 domain names and servers were used to cover up the scam.
Size of fraud
Eurojust added: “As soon as investors asked for payouts, they were put off with various excuses or were transferred to other staff members at the call centre.
“In reality, no money was returned, and the profits were transferred to the perpetrators, using a string of companies set up for the purpose. Investors were defrauded for at least €15m.
“Investigators estimate the total amount of the fraud could even amount to approximately €500m.”
Germany, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Ukraine were the countries involved to help Eurojust and Interpol.