Italy and Albania dismantle crypto scam

Through bilateral cooperation facilitated by EuroJust, Italy and Albania have dismantled a major crypto scam. The main suspects have been arrested and assets related to the scam have been seized. The scammers had already managed to steal €15 million by promising quick and large gains to investors.

Arrests and important seizures in Italy and Albania

The slowdown in the crypto market is clearly not deterring crypto scammers.

This month, Italy and Albania busted a crypto scam based in Tirana, Albania that scammed 15 million euros. The announcement comes from Eurojust, the European Criminal Justice Cooperation Agency, which contributed heavily to the operation.

The European agency for cooperation in criminal justice details the facts in a broader statement. Eurojust reports that the case was opened by the Italian authorities in 2020. With the cooperation of Eurojust, Italy and Albania conducted a three-day strong operation against the scammers this month. From December 13 to 15, the main suspects of this scam were arrested. Their number and identities were not revealed. In addition, thirteen locations used as their workplace were systematically searched. More than 160 electronic devices, 1 cell phone and 3 million euros of assets were seized in Italy and Albania.

A taste for quick and easy money leads to a loss of 15 million euros

According to Eurojust, the scam was carried out in two phases by an organized gang operating from the city of Tirana, Albania.

First, the suspects asked victims to create an account on a portal and make a crypto deposit there to get financial gains in return. To gain the trust of their customers, the scammers even gave immediate financial gains for small initial investments.

Thus, the bait was set. When subsequent transfers were made through the portal, the accounts were simply reset, the funds diverted and the suspects disappeared. The fact that the suspects contacted the victims by phone using unidentifiable numbers and offshore virtual private networks (VPNs) complicated efforts to find them.

In the second phase of the scam, the suspects used remote PC control software to access the victims’ banking information. They then convinced the victims to invest their entire capital. These funds simply disappeared. Victims who detected the scam and wanted their funds back lost even more. In fact, they were contacted by people asking for an additional payment to help them recover their stolen investment. These were actually other members of the same scamming gang.

With these two schemes, the organized gang managed to defraud almost 15 million euros.

Until we know a little more about this case, it reveals once again the nature of the crypto sector. Contrary to some widespread opinion, crypto does not generate money automatically and quickly. Those who join the crypto industry with this bias end up as scammers or swindlers. Don’t be fooled.