The Spanish National Police have arrested “a prolific scammer” on the island of Tenerife in Spain´s Canary Islands.
The arrest of the 50 year-old Croatian national followed a complex investigation involving four countries.
The suspect is believed to have been running a large-scale, multi-layered investment fraud scheme which siphoned at least EUR 5 million out of unsuspecting investors.
Over 70 German victims have been identified so far.
The arrest came after a 4 year investigation that was initiated in December 2019 by the German Police Headquarters Ludwigsburg (Polizeipräsidium Ludwigsburg) with the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre.
The European police authorities considered the individual a high-value target for his involvement in numerous high-profile cases throughout Europe.
The operation involved police forces in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Hungary.
The investigation uncovered how this criminal would pose as an employee of a real, Geneva-based investment company and would reach out to unsuspecting victims to persuade them to part with their savings, promising lucrative investment companies.
In order to fabricate a sense of legitimacy, the scammer had set-up a ‘spoofed’ website which looked nearly identical to the real company’s website. Investment documents which appeared to have been made by recognisable banks and insurance companies were also provided to prospective victims to trick them. The investors were instructed to send funds via wire transfer to bank accounts controlled by the criminal.
Once the payments had been made, the scammer would disappear with the money, moving the stolen funds from one jurisdiction to the other to conceal their illegal origin.
The investigators were able to track down the stolen funds all the way to Turkey.
Europol experts from its European Financial and Economic Crime Centre were also deployed to Spain to assist the Spanish national authorities.