Cryptocurrency fraud worth €15m dismantled in Italy and Albania

Raids across Europe see €3 million of assets and 11 properties seized

The EU Agency for Criminal Justice Co-operation, Eurojust, worked with authorities in Italy and Albania. Reuters
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Raids have been carried out across Europe to dismantle a cryptocurrency swindle which resulted in losses totalling €15 million.

Eurojust, the EU's criminal justice agency, worked with authorities in Italy and Albania to tackle the online investment scam and €3 million worth of assets have been seized.

The agency said the fraud was carried out by crime groups based in Italy and Albania.

“The investment fraud was carried out by an organised crime group that operated from a call centre in Tirana, Albania,” Eurojust said.

“The suspects allegedly contacted victims by telephone using unidentifiable virtual numbers and delocalised virtual private networks. They asked the victims to create an account on a portal and, once the transfer had been made, reset the newly created account, embezzled the sum received and made themselves untraceable.

“The perpetrators gained the trust of the victims by allowing them to secure an immediate financial gain against a small initial investment. After consulting seemingly reputable online trading platforms, the victims were contacted by alleged ‘brokers’ that proposed advantageous investments in cryptocurrencies with zero risk.”

The gang then obtained access to the victims' personal home banking accounts and convinced them to invest all their savings into the scam.

In the final stages of the scam, victims were contacted by other members of the crime group who convinced them to make additional payments to recover the lost funds.

The losses from the scam are estimated to total €15 million.

Raids took place at 13 locations in Albania, with more than 160 electronic devices and 11 properties seized.

The case was opened at Eurojust by Italian authorities in 2020.

Updated: December 20, 2022, 1:27 PM