International Scamming Network: Israel Awaits German Extradition Request
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Two weeks after Europol’s announcement of the arrest of five suspects for running a massive international scam network, Israel has completed the investigation in its territory and is awaiting an official request from Germany to extradite suspects. The network’s ‘headquarters’ was based in Israel and the ‘executive arm’ was based in Romania and Bulgaria. The scam so far cost at least 33,000 victims an estimated EUR 89 million.
Bust of a Massive Investment Fraud
Europol and its counterparts arrested five individuals last month in connection to an investigation into fraudulent online investment platforms, including binary options, operated between 2019 and 2021. The ‘high-value targets’ were arrested following searches conducted across 15 different locations in Bulgaria, Romania, and Israel. In addition, the police raided five illegal call centers during the two-day cross-border operation.
Dudi Katz, the Commander of the Cyber Unit in ‘Lahav 433’, the Israeli ‘FBI’, told Finance Magnates: “We did a joint investigation against several objects that operated, among other things, in Israel, and dispersed the call centers in Eastern Europe. Through them, they committed investor frauds.”
Katz added that: “The victims were mainly from Germany – thousands of them. We simultaneously made arrests here, in Bulgaria and Romania.”
The law enforcement agencies did not name any fraudulent platforms, but the schemes defrauded at least 33,000 victims. The estimated loss was at least €15 million last year during the initial crackdown, but it turned out to be €89 million, according to the latest figures.
Apart from the arrests, law enforcement seized several ‘high-value assets’ during the operations. They include luxury watches, electronic equipment, bank cards, bitcoins, cash, numerous documents, and data carriers.
Bigger Investment, Better Return
The official statement of Europol detailed that the fraudsters lured investors with professional-looking banners on websites and promoted the schemes on social media. They operated from call centers in various European countries.
Initially, the scammers encouraged the victims to make small investments between EUR 200 and 250, showing graphics and software of fake profit. Then, so-called personal financial advisors contacted those investors with promises of even higher returns on more significant investments. In reality, “these higher investments were then subsequently lost, and the illegal profits were paid into the perpetrators’ bank accounts,” Europol noted.
“Due to low-interest rates during this period, investors were attracted to investing in high-risk financial instruments, such as binary options,” Europol explained. “These are often susceptible to fraud and are therefore used in online scams. Such options are, in most cases, fixed amounts of money, serving as a guarantee for risky financial transactions or theoretical asset pricing.”
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