Dismantling an online investment fraud responsible for losses of several million euros | Eurojust

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With the support of Eurojust, the Finnish, German, Belgian and Latvian authorities succeeded in dealing a blow to the operators of various fraudulent online investment platforms which defrauded victims from 11 different countries out of several million euros.

During a day of action, two suspects were arrested and 12 places were searched.

According to the investigation, the victims were directed to apparently reputable online trading platforms in search of lucrative investment offers. Through these platforms, they were promised huge profits in a short time by trading cryptocurrencies, currencies or stocks.

After being contacted by telephone via call centers, by e-mail or by messaging, the victims transferred sums of money to bank accounts indicated by alleged “brokers”. However, no investment of any kind has apparently ever been made with this money.

The suspects have been identified as authorized eliminators of the accounts and they are suspected of money laundering activities for operators of online trading platforms.

More than a hundred victims from 11 different countries have been identified so far. It is estimated that in Germany alone (where more than half of the victims originate), victims transferred around 4.3 million euros. Of this amount, at least EUR 700,000 was collected from accounts held by the suspects.

During a day of action coordinated by Eurojust on September 6, two suspects were arrested in Belgium. A total of 12 locations were excavated.

The case was opened to Eurojust by the Finnish and German authorities in 2021. The Agency has actively facilitated cross-border judicial cooperation between the national authorities concerned, including the execution of European Investigation Orders (EIOs), warrants European stop orders (EAW) and freezing orders based on Regulation (EU) 2018/1805. In addition, Eurojust organized five coordination meetings in preparation for the action day.

Europol supported this high priority case by providing bespoke analysis and virtual tracing analysis. In addition, experts from Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Center have been deployed to Belgium and Latvia to assist national authorities in investigative actions.

The following authorities participated in this investigation:

  • Finland: National Bureau of Investigation; National Prosecution Authority, Prosecution District of Southern Finland
  • Germany: Itzehoe Regional Court Prosecution Service, Cybercrime Department; Kiel District Criminal Investigation Office
  • Belgium: Federal Judicial Police Antwerp – ECOFIN service, assisted by the RCCU under the direction/coordination of the International Center for Legal Assistance (CRI) of the Antwerp Public Prosecutor’s Office and the investigating judge
  • Latvia: The 3rd Unit of the Directorate of International Cooperation of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police of the State Police.

This operation was carried out within the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

EMPACT addresses the most significant threats posed by serious international organized crime affecting the European Union. EMPACT strengthens intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies and international partners. EMPACT operates in four-year cycles focusing on common EU crime priorities. Fraud, economic and financial crimes are among the priorities of the 2021-2025 political cycle.

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