The Spanish police, in cooperation with the authorities in Germany and other European countries, have arrested a gang that is said to have stolen an estimated 2.4 billion euros from fraudulent trading in cryptocurrencies. In Spain alone, according to current knowledge, more than 17,000 investors have been tricked, the Spanish police unit Guardia Civil said on Monday. The total number of victims could go into the hundreds of thousands.

Spanish officials, working with the country’s authorities, arrested the two suspected gang leaders in Albania on November 8 and 9. Investigations are underway against 16 other suspects, it said.

According to the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), it worked with the Catalan police Mossos D’Esquadra and with the authorities of several other countries – including Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia in addition to Albania and Germany. In the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, for example, a call center involved with around 800 employees was closed.

Invest successfully in digital currencies. Trading Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain, Tokens

The investigations began in 2018 after an elderly woman in the Spanish region of Catalonia reported that she had been cheated out of €800,000. Potential victims were called from call centers in Albania and other countries. The callers “pretended to be well versed in the world of finance. They manipulated their victims with persuasion techniques and promised high profits. Many would have trusted the gang and transferred ever larger sums, especially for alleged transactions with cryptocurrencies. The criminals often managed to install remote access software on the victims’ computers.

“We estimate that the gang earned around 400 euros per minute,” it said. But now it has been broken. “They thought they could work with impunity, but now they got a nasty surprise,” said a spokesman for the Guardia Civil. Many of the gang’s employees apparently knew nothing of the criminal background. They should not be held accountable by the authorities of the respective country, a police spokesman said on request. How many victims there may have been in Germany and other countries was not initially reported.

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