Ukraine’s cyber police and Europol have identified and arrested five key members of an international investment fraud ring estimated to have caused losses of over €200 million per year.
The operation of the investment scheme was spread across multiple European countries, including Ukraine, Germany, Spain, Latvia, Finland, and Albania.
The scammers operate call centers and offices in these countries, as required to trick prospective investors into initiating a series of fake investments.
The criminals created an extensive network of fake websites posing as cryptocurrency, stocks, bonds, futures, and options investment portals to promote the operation.
These sites pretended to generate fake profits for any investors, convincing the victims they were making money quickly and tricking them into investing even more.
However, none of the investments or gains could be withdrawn from the platforms, and by the time the victims realized the fraud, they had already lost massive amounts of money.
FBI recently warned about this type of scam, called “Pig Butchering,” warning the public of its emergence as a highly profitable scheme used by fraudsters worldwide.
According to the Ukrainian cyber police’s announcement, it is estimated that the crime ring employed over 2,000 people in its call centers, drawing victims to the fraud sites.
Three call centers were located in Ukraine, and the five people arrested by the police are believed to be the organizers of the local operations.
“Law enforcement officers conducted searches in the homes of those involved, as well as at the addresses of call centers in Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk,” reads the police’s announcement.
“More than 500 pieces of computer equipment and mobile phones were seized.”
Ukraine’s investigation into the crime ring has been underway since 2020, involving Europol, Eurojust, and police forces from other EU countries.
The arrested individuals will now face charges of fraud, part 3 of article 190 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, which incur penalties of up to eight years in prison.