On Dec. 19 2022, European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, noted in its press releases that “With the support of Eurojust, authorities in Italy and Albania have dismantled an online investment fraud involving the use of cryptocurrencies. During an action, EUR 3 million worth of assets were seized. Eurojust supported the judicial cooperation and assisted the authorities in setting up and funding a joint investigation team (JIT).”
Crypto Investment Fraud Investigation
According to the investigation, “the investment fraud was carried out by an organised crime group (OCG) that operated from a call centre in Tirana, Albania. The suspects allegedly contacted victims by telephone using unidentifiable virtual numbers and delocalised virtual private networks (VPNs). 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 authorities from “Italy: Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pisa; Carabinieri Pisa, and Albania: Special Prosecution Office Against Corruption and Organised Crime (SPAK); Albanian State Police, Department of Criminal Police, C”Unit-Computer Crime Investigations” took part in this investigation.
In the second phase of the fraud, “the perpetrators obtained access to the victims’ personal home banking pages and convinced them to invest their entire economic capital. In the final stage, the victims that uncovered the deception were contacted by other members of the OCG, who convinced them to make additional payments to recover the lost funds.”
The total damage according to the PR is estimated at EUR 15 Million. “In Italy and Albania, more than 160 electronic devices, one mobile phone and EUR 3 Million ($3.2 Million) worth of assets (including 11 properties) were seized.”
In the previous week, on Dec. 14, 2022, the United States Department of Justice, noted in its press release that “U.S. Attorney announces fraud and money laundering charges against the founders and promoters of two cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes.”
“Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ivan J. Arvelo, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”), announced charges in two separate Indictments against the founders and promoters of two cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes known as IcomTech and Forcount (and later known as Weltsys),” according to PR.