Published on: November 15, 2022
Ukraine’s Cyber Police and Europol arrested five people in Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk who were allegedly involved in an investment scheme that defrauded people of more than €200 million (over $206 million) per year.
In this scheme, threat actors in multiple European countries looked to convince people to invest in fraudulent securities and cryptocurrencies in order to steal their funds.
“Employees of the Cyber Police Department together with the National Police, the Office of the Prosecutor General, and representatives of Europol have exposed five citizens of Ukraine who are participants in a large-scale international criminal scheme,” read the press release from the Ukrainian officials.
“Documenting the actions of criminals took place in cooperation with law enforcement officers of Albania, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, and Spain. The investigation of cyber fraud began in 2020, in particular in Ukraine,” the press release added.
The cybercriminals contacted potential victims and offered them “great” opportunities to invest in cryptocurrency, stocks, bonds, futures, and options. Additionally, the group had its own websites and platforms that simulated activity and growth for potential investors. Eventually, the deceived investors caught on when they weren’t able to retrieve their funds from the platform.
There were three call centers in Ukraine alone, while five people organized the fraudulent activity in other European countries.
“According to Europol, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been affected by the illegal activities of transnational groups, and damages are estimated at more than 200 million euros per year,” said the Ukrainian officials.
During the investigation, authorities seized more than 500 computers, smartphones, and other hardware. Similar searches also took place simultaneously in Albania, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, and Spain.
The five suspects were arrested for alleged participation in this fraud and risk up to eight years in prison if found guilty.