Police catch Israeli gang who stole millions from German clients in investment scam

Victims lost all their savings via 18 different trading platforms

Police have apprehended a gang who stole tens of millions from German clients in online investment scams.

The €30 million ($36.2m) fraud targeted hundreds of people across Europe.

Investigations into the fraud scheme started in 2015, after complaints from citizens, including German victims, who had lost all their investments via at least 18 online trading platforms.

Police discovered that a group of fraudsters of Israeli and Georgian origin had set up several limited companies, which operated the platforms.

With the support of Europe's crime agency, Eurojust, police in Germany, Israel and Georgia carried out a series of raids which resulted in the arrests of 11 suspects and the seizure of properties, luxury vehicles and cash.

The gang pretended to generate high profits on investments in financial securities, shares, commodity assets, currencies and cryptocurrencies.

Investors, who had reacted to professional-looking online advertisements, were approached by employees of call centres, who spoke the language of their customers.

Using fake names and hidden phone numbers, the fraudsters provided false information on the location of the investment companies, trying to gain the trust of investors.

The perpetrators forecast considerable gains on investments, which encouraged the victims to invest, and subsequently lose, substantial sums of money.

The profits were then laundered via foreign bank accounts and later transferred back to the fraudsters' accounts.

The overall trading took place in euros, US dollars and pounds sterling.

"With Eurojust’s support, authorities in Germany, Georgia and Israel have dismantled a criminal network operating various online trading platforms, defrauding victims of at least tens of millions of euros," Eurojust said.

The fraud scheme, organised mainly by Israelis, was run from call centres in Bulgaria and North Macedonia

The operation was initiated by the General Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bamberg in Germany and the Bavarian Central Office for the Prosecution of Cybercrime, with support from the Bavarian State Police.

During the operation, more than 100 law enforcement officers were deployed in Georgia, including 20 German officers.

Eurojust assisted the German, Georgian and Israeli authorities with the execution of requests for mutual legal assistance and co-ordinated cross-border judicial support.

In Israel, support was provided by the Department of International Affairs, Office of the State Attorney of the Ministry of Justice and the Israeli police's fraud unit.

Earlier this year, Europol said the continent was "at breaking point" because of the rise in serious organised crime, with cyber crime in particular becoming more sophisticated.

Updated: October 28th 2021, 11:46 AM