January 13 (SeeNews) - Authorities in Bulgaria, Serbia, Cyprus and Germany have conducted a joint operation to stop organised crime groups involved in fake online cryptocurrency investment platforms which have appropriated over 2 million euro ($2.16 million) from German investors, the EU law enforcement agency said.
With the support of Europol and EU judicial co-operation Eurojust, 22 locations were searched in a joint action day on Wednesday, of which five in Bulgaria and 15 in Serbia, Europol said in a statement on Thursday. A total of 261 individuals were questioned in the four countries, with some now awaiting prosecution.
As a result of the operation, three hardware wallets were seized which held around 1 million US dollars in cryptocurrencies. Investors from Germany as well as Switzerland, Australia and Canada fell victim to fake crypto investment platforms promising unusually high investment returns.
"The investigation suggests that the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. This would mean that the illegal gains generated by the criminal groups, with at least four call centres in eastern Europe, may be in the hundreds of millions of euro," Europol said. The investigation, ongoing since June 2022, was initiated at the request of Germany.
($ = 0.9219 euro)