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Ukrainian Police takes down financial scam call centre

A network of call centres used by a cyber crime group to run cryptocurrency scams have been taken down by the National Police of Ukraine (NPU).

user iconReporter
Fri, 02 Sep 2022
Ukrainian Police takes down financial scam call centre
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The malicious cyber threat collective was running financial rackets, targeting victims of cryptocurrency scams under the guise of helping them recover their stolen funds.

According to the National Police of Ukraine (NPU), the fraudsters behind the illegal call centres were also allegedly involved in scamming citizens of Ukraine and European Union countries who were interested in cryptocurrency, securities, gold, and oil investments.

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The NPU used software and high-tech equipment that made it possible to spoof the phone numbers of state banking organisations throughout this cross-border fraud operation.

"The organisers of the scheme used previously created websites and platforms for exchange trading of currency and cryptocurrency, securities, gold and oil to attract funds from foreign citizens, guaranteeing the receipt of excess profits in a short time.

"In the course of the investigation, it was established that the employees of call centres presented themselves as employees of these state banking institutions and extorted confidential data of citizens' bank cards," the NPU said.

The fraudsters claimed to be members of a so-called "community of cryptocurrency brokers". The cyber attacker collective also used contact information belonging to previous victims of other cryptocurrency scammers, approaching them under the guise of "helping them recover their stolen funds for a commission".

The NPU found that the threat group ceased all communications after tricking the targets into transferring the money to attacker-controlled accounts.

​Ukrainian law enforcement officers confirmed a number of illegal activities following authorised searches at the location of multiple "call centres" linked to this cyber crime operation and the seizure of computer equipment, mobile phones, and data records.

Those linked to this fraud scheme are facing up to 12 years in prison for taking part in an organised criminal group, fraud, and using malicious software.

The Security Service of Ukraine also took down another network of call centres in Lviv linked to a ring of scammers in September 2021, for defrauding cryptocurrency investors globally. That particular cyber crime gang used VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone numbers to hide their actual location while scamming thousands of foreign investors.

Last year, more than $80 million were lost to cryptocurrency investment scams, according to the US Federal Trade Commission. About 7,000 reports have been made since October 2020.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also alerted cryptocurrency owners of fraudsters actively targeting virtual assets in phone calls by impersonating cryptocurrency exchange or payment platform support staff. Similarly, stock market investors have also been warned by the Securities and Exchange Commission in July 2021 that scammers are impersonating registered investment professionals such as brokers and investment advisers.

[Related: Applications open for new round of Cyber Gap program]

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