A criminal organization involved in cyber fraud in Europe has been dismantled, thanks to a coordinated effort set up by Europol and Eurojust and included the assistance of police and judicial authorities from Cyprus, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
The criminal organization was allegedly behind an online financial services platform. Using around 250 accounts on social networks and websites, the organization managed to extract more than €15 million from German citizens.
As part of the operation, Europol launched an 'umbrella' team to coordinate all public services that performed cross-border investigations in Kiev, Limassol and Sofia. The action resulted in searches being acrried out in a house and offices of two companies in Limassol. A 54-year old resident of Limassol, considered one of the main suspects i the case, was arrested. Four people were also interrogated in connection with the case.
They were advertising financial services and investment opportunities through an online platform and managed to dupe would-be investors into paying more than 15 million euros for advertising services.
In addition to members of the TAE and the Limassol Police Department, the operation also included members of the Financial Crime Sub-Directorate of the Police Headquarters, the Office for the Execution of European Investigation Orders and Judicial Assistance and the Europol National Unit. Europol and German authorities also assisted in the operation.
A number of investigations in relation to the case were also carried out in Bulgaria and Ukraine which resulted in the confiscation of phones and electronic equipment that contained account and electronic data.
According to a Europol Press Release, the criminal network operated between May 2019 and September 2021. They were advertising financial services and investment opportunities through an online platform and managed to dupe would-be investors into paying more than 15 million euros for advertising services. The network allegedly used more than 250 websites and social media accounts.
At the same time, a Ukrainian company, which appears to be linked to the criminal network, set up two call centers in Bulgaria, employing around 100 people.
According to the investigations, the employees, acting as financial advisers, approached the potential victims, offering them the services of their online platform. In their conversations with clients, employees used predefined conversations and specific messages given to them in order to persuade clients to invest more money. Further investigation found that most of the employees in these centers were not aware of the illegal nature of their work.
The clients were given financial statements showing profits from their investments, however, the monies were never released. A total of 246 cases so, far, are under investigation in Germany.