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A joint task force from Italy and Albania recently busted a suspected crypto investment scam involving millions of dollars.
Law enforcement authorities in Albania and Italy have uncovered a 15 million euro ($16 million) suspected crypto scam. According to reports, the Eurojust joint investigation team seized assets worth 3 million euros during the raid. The European Union’s cross-border organized crime-fighting agency also recently reported that it confiscated more than 160 electronic devices. These include digital video recorders, computers, servers, and a cellphone.
How Perpetrators Pulled Off Alleged Italy and Albania Crypto Scam
Eurojust also alleged that an organized crime group (OCG) operating out of a call center in Tirana, Albania was behind the fraudulent operation. The suspects successfully pulled off the investment fraud by telephoning victims using unidentifiable virtual numbers and delocalized virtual private networks (VPNs). According to Eurojust, these miscreants asked the victims to create an account on a portal and transfer an initial sum. Victims who obliged received an immediate financial gain, after which the perpetrators contacted them again – this time posing as brokers. According to the Eurojust statement, the organized crime group attempted to sell its victims profitable cryptocurrency investments without risk. However, it remains unclear if any digital currency purchase took place.
Victims were also implored to make far more substantial investments, which sometimes constituted their entire economic capital. Upon receipt of these larger sums, Eurojust alleged that the perpetrators reset the details of the newly-created accounts. Furthermore, the criminals locked unsuspecting victims out of their accounts, embezzled the received funds, and made themselves untraceable.
Eurojust noted that the organized crime group was able to fool its victims due to the bait-and-switch approach of its strategy. By allowing victims to secure an immediate financial gain against a small investment, the perpetrators gained the trust of clueless investors.
In the second phase of the scam, the organized crime group gained access to the victims’ personal home banking pages. According to Eurojust, these criminals could secure access using PC remote control software. At this point, the malevolent crime syndicate then proceeded to persuade investors to commit their entire economic capital. However, the scam was not done yet.
Eurojust also further alleged that victims who uncovered the deception were contacted in the final stages of the ruse by OCG members. These miscreants then convinced the victims to make additional payments to recover the lost funds.
Other Details Pertaining to Case
The European Union’s organized crime fighting unit coordinated its actions on the Italy-Albania crypto scam between December 13th and 15th. In addition, the agency executed precautionary detention orders against the main suspects of the fraud.
According to reports, Italian authorities opened the case at Eurojust in 2020, and thirteen locations underwent intense search exercises in Albania. In addition, during the action, the Eurojust organized four coordination meetings and a coordination center.
Authorities that participated in the action included the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pisa and the Carabinieri Pisa in Italy. Furthermore, Albania’s Special Prosecution Office Against Corruption and Organised Crime (SPAK), and its State Police also took part in the investigation.