Judicial and law enforcement authorities in Bulgaria, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have taken down a network of online investment fraudsters involved in money laundering.
On the action day on January 26, officers from the Bulgarian National Police arrested one suspect for defrauding mainly German and Greek investors of at least EUR 10 million. During the action day, a total of 24 locations were searched, while officers interrogated 66 witnesses in Sofia and Burgas. Furthermore, a variety of electronic equipment, financial information and recordings were seized.
Europol deployed two experts on the ground in Bulgaria to facilitate the information exchange and provide real-time operational analysis and technical expertise. Eurojust coordinated the joint action day and provided cross-border judicial support. The national authorities deployed around one hundred officers and prosecutors during the action day.
The scam was exposed after complaints were made by German and Greek investors who had lost all of the deposits they had invested in the online scam. The organized crime group responsible had set up websites and call centers that appeared to be legitimate but were actually fraudulent.
The fraudulent activity was conducted by two call centers. While acting as financial consultants, call operators speaking German, Greek, English and Spanish contacted potential investors with promises of significant profits. As a result, several hundred victims made substantial investments but subsequently lost all of their money.
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.
In 2020, a similar modus operandi was used in another case and a coordinated action day led to the dismantling of two other call centers.