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Police: At least 2,000 Finnish victims of international crypto scam

Victims in Finland lost at least 6.6 million euros to the crypto-scammers, authorities say.

Bitcoin kryptovaluutan symboli tietokoneen näppäimistön päällä.
So far there are no Finnish suspects in the case, police say. Image: Marcin Rogozinski / Alamy/All Over Press
Yle News

Finnish police have teamed up with European colleagues to probe a wide-ranging fraud scheme in which victims were lured into investing in dubious cryptocurrencies. 

Authorities say that hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the criminal operation in various countries. In early November, police carried out raids and arrested suspects in several countries.

So far, some 2,000 victims have been identified in Finland. Police estimate their losses at least 6.6 million euros, and say that there could be more victims.

No Finnish suspects so far

Police say that the fraud was carried out by an organised crime group abroad, and that so far there are no Finnish suspects in the case. 

"We are not currently aware of any Finnish perpetrators being involved. However, we can't say for sure until the matter has been finally resolved," said Detective Superintendent Mikko Laaksonen of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). 

The investment fraud is being probed by a joint investigation team made up of authorities from 10 countries. In Finland, the cases are being investigated by police departments around the country as well as by the NBI, which has led international cooperation on the case.

Police say the scheme was carried out using call centres, from which criminal operators called victims and talked them into making dodgy cryptocurrency investments. 

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Five detained in Albania and Georgia

The perpetrators used investment platforms created specifically for fraud. Laaksonen declined to comment on how the victims were selected for phone calls. 

"The operation seemed very professional, but this type of fraud has occurred in the past as well. As technology develops, so does criminal activity. In the past, stock scams have been carried out in the same way," Laaksonen told Yle on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, law enforcement officials cracked down on con artists in Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, North Macedonia and Ukraine. They closed down 15 call centres, taking five suspects into custody in Albania and Georgia. 

They also seized equipment, including hundreds of IT devices, as well as 340,000 euros in cash.

Laaksonen advised members of the public to always examine a service provider's details before making any investment and check whether it is listed on any official websites warning of investment fraud. 

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