Ukraine Takes Down Cybercrime Group Hitting Crypto Fraud Victims
The National Police of Ukraine (NPU) took down a network of call centers used by a cybercrime group focused on financial scams and targeting victims of cryptocurrency scams under the guise of helping them recover their stolen funds.
The fraudsters behind these illegal call centers were also allegedly involved in scamming citizens of Ukraine and European Union countries interested in cryptocurrency, securities, gold, and oil investments.
Throughout this cross-border fraud operation, they used software and high-tech equipment that made it possible to spoof the phone numbers of state banking organizations.
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“In the course of the investigation, it was established that the employees of call centers presented themselves as employees of these state banking institutions and extorted confidential data of citizens’ bank cards,” the NPU revealed.
“The organizers of the scheme used previously created websites and platforms for exchange trading of currency and cryptocurrency, securities, gold and oil to attract funds from foreign citizens, guaranteeing the receipt of excess profits in a short time.”
While claiming to be members of a so-called “Community of cryptocurrency brokers,” the attackers also used contact information belonging to previous victims of other cryptocurrency scammers to deceive them that they could help them recover their stolen funds for a “commission.”
However, they interrupted all communications after tricking the targets into transferring the money to attacker-controlled accounts.
Ukrainian law enforcement officers confirmed these illegal activities following authorized searches at the location of multiple “call centers” linked to this cybercrime operation and the seizure of computer equipment, mobile phones, and data records.
Those linked to this fraud scheme are investigated for being part of an organized criminal group, fraud, and using malicious software, and are facing up to 12 years in prison.
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In September 2021, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) also took down another network of call centers in Lviv linked to a ring of scammers who defrauded cryptocurrency investors worldwide.
They used VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone numbers to hide their actual location while scamming thousands of foreign investors.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said last year that more than $80 million were lost to cryptocurrency investment scams, according to roughly 7,000 reports received since October 2020.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also alerted cryptocurrency owners of fraudsters actively targeting virtual assets in phone calls by impersonating cryptocurrency exchange or payment platform support staff.
Stock market investors were also warned by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in July 2021 that scammers are impersonating registered investment professionals such as brokers and investment advisers.