Spain’s police unit, the Guardia Civil, said on Monday that in Spain alone, according to current knowledge, more than 17,000 investors have been duped. The total number of victims could go into the hundreds of thousands. Spanish authorities, in cooperation with the country’s authorities, arrested two suspected gang leaders in Albania on 8 and 9 November. The investigation against 16 other suspects is ongoing.
The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) said it worked with the Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra and officers from several other countries – including Albania and Germany, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia. In Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, for example, a call center with about 800 employees was closed.
The investigation began in 2018 after an elderly woman in the Spanish region of Catalonia reported that she had been defrauded of €800,000. Potential victims called from call centers in Albania and other countries. The callers “pretended to be well-versed in the financial world. They manipulated their victims with persuasion techniques and promised high profits,” it said. Many people may have trusted the gang and, above all, transferred large sums of money for alleged transactions with cryptocurrencies. Criminals often succeed in installing remote access software on victims’ computers.
“We estimate that the gang earned around 400 euros per minute,” it said. But now it has been broken. A spokesman for the Guardia Civil said, “They thought they could operate with impunity, but now they have received a nasty surprise.” Many of the gang’s employees apparently had no known criminal background. A police spokesman said upon request that they should not be held accountable by the authorities of the country concerned. It was not initially reported how many victims there may have been in Germany and other countries.
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