An international ring of online fraudsters exploited thousands of private investors across Europe – racking up an estimated €500 million in total annual damage.

Last week, their premises in Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Ukraine were raided by Europol, Eurojust and foreign special forces. Cybercrime specialists from federal states and the public prosecutor’s offices in Germany (where victims are estimated to have lost a total of up to €15 million per year in the scam) announced this milestone on Monday.

Tens of thousands of victims across up to 170 platforms

The investigation began over two years ago after investors in Germany filed criminal charges against the operators of trading platforms such as FX Leader. These victims had ‘invested’ in financial contracts for difference and binary options on stocks, commodities,indices, currencies and cryptocurrencies – but they never saw a return.

Instead, the criminals immediately transferred deposits to other global accounts or exchanged it for cryptocurrency – making it nearly impossible to chase a lead. In other words, although Cypriot authorities have frozen platform operators’ accounts, the likelihood of recovering any assets is slim.

Germany applies for suspected fraudster to be extradited

While officers were able to issue a European arrest warrant against an unnamed suspect, he has now been released on bail. Meanwhile, German authorities are seeking justice for their targeted citizens and have applied for his extradition.

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