Europol Dismantles Massive Call Center Investment Scam Operation
Europol has announced the arrest of 108 people suspected of being involved in an international call center operation that tricked victims into investment scams.
The operation was conducted in collaboration with law enforcement from Lithuania and Latvia, who coordinated raids between March 24th and 25th, 2022, on three locations belonging to the same crime group.
According to the Europol announcement, the crime group directed an army of 200 “traders” who spoke English, Russian, Polish, and Hindi, calling prospective victims to present fake investment opportunities in cryptocurrency, commodities, and foreign currencies.
The amount of money stolen from individuals is estimated to be at least €3,000,000 per month, so the group had set up a very profitable operation.
During the coordinated police raids, the law enforcement officers seized cash, luxury vehicles, €95,000 in cryptocurrencies, and identified and froze bank accounts. Eighty people were detained in Latvia, and 28 in Lithuania.
Europol has also released a video compilation of the raids, showcasing the office spaces where the now-dismantled scam call centers were located.
The black hole of investment fraud
In January, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission published a report revealing that at least 95,000 Americans have fallen victim to social media fraud in 2021, losing roughly $770,000,000 as a result.
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Another research focusing on UK consumers has estimated the financial damage of investment scams in 2020 to be €160,400,000 in the country and €426,000,000 when including e-commerce and internet fraud.
That said, the scale of the problem is massive, and its impact on society is such that law enforcement cannot ignore it.
As the FBI advised last summer, people should look for certain red flags when agents present them with investment opportunities that seem very lucrative.
These red flags include promises of high investment returns, often accompanied by a guarantee of no risk, and unusual payment methods like credit cards, wire transfers, and cryptocurrencies.
Also, in almost all investment fraud cases, the offers are unsolicited (agents calling you) and not in response to a declaration of interest for investment.