- Europol and Eurojust, along with officials from Germany, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, have collaborated in curbing crypto cyber crimes in the EU.
- An estimated $3.9 billion was lost to crypto in 2022.
- Germany is reported to have lost more to scammers than other EU countries.
The crypto industry witnessed a surge in Cybercrime last year, resulting in the loss of over a billion dollars of cryptocurrencies. Despite 2022 being a challenging year for traders and investors in the crypto market, crypto scammers saw this as an opportunity to lure victims and make away with people’s savings.
The last weeks of 2022 were the most unsavory for crypto investors trying to regain their losses as they were scammed out of the little savings they had left with them.
In an attempt to curb the horrifying crimes in the cryptocurrency industry, officials from Bulgaria, Germany, Cyprus, and Serbia collaborated with EU law enforcement agencies; Europol and Eurojust, to catch the criminals perpetrating these crimes and threatening the livelihood of crypto traders and investors.
Since July 2022, crypto firms and entrepreneurs have joined forces with international law enforcement to thwart cross-border crimes. These crimes experienced by those in the crypto industry ranged from rug pulls, online scams, hacks, and identity theft.
In June 2022, Europol and Eurojust, with help from EU countries, conducted rigorous research and investigations, revealing a criminal network that operated through “call centers.”
According to a report by Europol, it was estimated that the financial losses incurred by the criminal network on Germans were €2 million. Countries like Australia, Canada, and Switzerland also suffered economic damage.
How did the criminals scam the EU citizens?
According to Europol, the investigations were fruitful as 261 individuals were investigated (42 in Bulgaria, 214 in Serbia, 2 in Cyprus, and 3 in Germany); 15 arrests were reportedly made, and 22 locations were searched.
International law enforcement agencies could seize several pieces of equipment and gadgets from the criminals, including three hardware wallets containing $1 million in cryptocurrencies, €50,000 in cash, documents, three vehicles, and electronic equipment.
Europol and Eurojust reported that the criminals used advertisements on social media to entice their victims, leading them to malicious websites under the control of the criminals.
These websites were filled with offers promising high-yield returns if the victims would invest with their cryptocurrencies. The victims, mostly Germans, began by investing low, three-digit sums. However, they were deceived by the manipulated price hikes on the websites.
“Fake price hikes leading to supposedly lucrative profits for investors then persuaded them to make transfers of higher amounts,” the report reads.
The investigation believed that the figures could have been higher than what was reported, as it was suspected that there were multiple unreported cases. This news would mean that the cyber-criminals would likely have made away with “hundreds of millions of euros” from four call centers in eastern Europe.
How to avoid falling for crypto scams?
On January 6, Immunefi, a security services platform, reported that $3.9 billion in funds were lost to crypto in 2022, with $3.7 billion lost to hacks. According to the report, hacks continued to be the leading cause of losses at 95.6% in 2022 compared to 2021.
“The two most targeted chains in 2022 were Ethereum and BNB Chain, representing over half of the chain attacks in 2022,” Immunefi claimed.
With the report submitted by Europol, every crypto trader and investor needs to understand the multiple ways in which cyber-criminals could hack and steal funds which is why the crypto community is urged to fortify their securities against crypto crimes. Here are a few ways to avoid crypto scams;
1. Store crypto on a hardware wallet
The crypto community has been advised to store their digital assets in hardware wallets, given the recent events that have occurred in the crypto industry, such as Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX fraudulent activities, which dealt a blow to the crypto industry and saw the loss of investor funds.
2. Update software
Regularly updating software and operating systems downloaded from legally recognized app stores will prevent hacking or installing malware on computers that may risk hackers obtaining a user’s personal information.
3. Avoid clicking strange links.
Many phishing scams have been reported successful due to the victims clicking strange websites and inputting their personal information on these platforms. Avoid clicking unknown websites and always question the credibility of a website that requests personal information.
A combination of forces with international law enforcement agencies, Europol and Eurojust, has yielded excellent results in their efforts to curb crypto cyber crimes from spreading further in EU countries.