Authorities in Bulgaria have busted a big online investment scam responsible for losses in the region of €10 million, in which fraudsters operated through fake websites and call centres targeting victims in Germany and Greece.
On the day the police action took place, officers of the Bulgarian National Police (ГД Национална Полиция) arrested a suspect for defrauding investors, mainly Germans and Greeks. Twenty-four properties and premises were also searched, while 66 witnesses were interrogated in Sofia and Burgas. In addition, a variety of electronic equipment, financial information and recordings were seized.
Europol intervened with two experts on the ground to facilitate the exchange of information and provide real-time operational analysis and technical expertise. As for Eurojust, it coordinated the joint action day and provided cross-border judicial support. The national authorities deployed more than 100 officers and prosecutors during the action day.
The scam came to light after German and Greek investors filed complaints and reports saying that they had lost all the deposits in which they had invested. The organised crime group responsible had created websites and call centres that seemed to be legitimate but were in fact fraudulent.
The criminal activity was carried out by two call centres. While acting as financial consultants, the call operators – who spoke German, Greek, English and Spanish – contacted potential investors with promises of secure and juicy profits. As a result, several hundred people invested heavily, but ended up losing all their money.
Bulgarian authorities started their investigations at the end of 2019, while Eurojust set up a joint investigation team between Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Serbia and Europol.
After five coordination meetings with Europol and Eurojust, the team members were able to identify the two fraudulent call centres in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian police, with the support of Serbian authorities, dismantled both centres on the police action day.
In 2020, a similar modus operandi was used in another case and a coordinated action day led to the dismantling of two more call centres.