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Actions Across Europe Against Online Fraud With Cryptocurrencies

Investigations into the investment scam started in October 2019, following a complaint from a victim to the Swiss authorities. This uncovered fraudulent call centres and websites of alleged financial trading companies in Ukraine, and later also in Georgia. The investigation was temporarily suspended due to the war in Ukraine. At the end of 2022, however, targeted actions were taken in 23 countries, where places were searched and bank accounts and assets were frozen. 

Generic image laptop and credit card

The investigations revealed that most of the victims were Swiss and German investors. The perpetrators allegedly used over a hundred websites, posing as serious investment companies, offering financial transactions in cryptocurrencies and trading options. After potential investors showed interest, they were approached over the phone and lured into making considerable investments that were subsequently lost. 

Given the complexity and scale of the scam, it is difficult to estimate the exact amount of the loss and the number of victims, but investors have lost at least several million euros. Eurojust has been providing support to the case since December 2020, helping to set up a joint investigation team into the fraud between the Swiss and Ukrainian authorities. 

Three coordination meetings were held to organise a coordinated action day, during which judicial measures were taken to freeze and seize the suspects’ bank accounts and assets. The Swiss and German authorities cooperated closely in the early phase of the coordination via Eurojust and Europol. 

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre provided analytical support to the operations, while the European Cybercrime Centre, along with its Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, facilitated coordination among the countries involved.

The following authorities cooperated on a mutual legal assistance basis:

  • Switzerland: Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Canton of Bern; Police of the Canton of Berne
  • Belgium: Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office; Investigative Judge Court of 1st Instance Brussels
  • Bulgaria: Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office
  • Cyprus: Cyprus Police
  • Czech Republic: Metropolitan Public Prosecutor’s Office Prague
  • Georgia: Prosecutor General’s Office
  • Germany: Bavarian Central Office for the Prosecution of Cybercrime at Bamberg Public Prosecutor General’s Office 
  • Hungary: Fővárosi Főügyészség Gazdasági Bűnügyek Osztálya (Metropolitan Chief Prosecution Office Department for Economic Crimes); Készenléti Rendőrség Nemzeti Nyomozó Iroda (Rapid Response and Special Police Services, National Bureau of Investigation)
  • Lithuania: Regional Public Prosecutor’s Office Vilnius
  • Portugal: Public Prosecution Offices of Lisbon, Setubal and Faro
  • Slovakia: Public Prosecutor’s Office Bratislava
  • Ukraine: Prosecutor General’s Office, Main Investigation Department; Cyber Police Department of National Police of Ukraine

Source : Euro Just