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Online Investment Fraud Network Taken Down by Law Enforcement

Bulgarian law enforcement has successfully taken down a network of online investment fraudsters responsible for losses of more than €10m.

The operation, supported by Europol and Eurojust, took place on January 26. This resulted in the arrest of one individual by the Bulgarian National Police on suspicion of defrauding mainly German and Greek investors out of at least €10m. In addition, 24 locations were searched, police officers interviewed 66 witnesses in Sofia and Burgas and a variety of electronic equipment, financial information and recordings were seized.

The scam was conducted by an organized crime group that set up bogus websites and call centers. Call operators speaking German, Greek, English and Spanish posed as financial consultants and contacted potential investors with promises of significant profits. This led to several hundred victims making substantial investments, which they lost entirely.

German and Greek investors who lost their investments notified law enforcement, leading to the investigation and subsequent action.

During the operation, two experts from Europol were on the ground to facilitate the information exchange and provide real-time operational analysis and technical expertise. The joint action was coordinated by Eurojust, who also provided cross-border judicial support.

Europol explained: “In 2019, Bulgarian authorities started investigations and Eurojust set up a joint investigation team (JIT) between Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Serbia and Europol. Following five coordination meetings with Europol and Eurojust, the JIT members were able to identify the two fraudulent call centers in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian police, supported by the Serbian authorities, dismantled both call centers on the action day.”

Last November, Proofpoint warned consumers of a significant rise in call center threat activity, in which attackers use email alongside call center customer service agents to scam victims, sometimes out of tens of thousands of dollars.

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