Three people were arrested in the Netherlands in a Belgian investigation into a criminal organization engaged in cryptocurrency fraud, the Belgian Public Prosecution Service said. According to the authorities, this criminal organization targeted people on higher-end real estate platforms and arranged to meet them in Amsterdam, Maastricht, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, or Milan.
Once they had physical contact with the potential victims, the suspects asked to do a side deal in addition to the real estate purchase. They asked whether they could exchange large denominations of cash for small denominations of cash, or gold for cash, or cryptocurrency for cash at a generous commission of 10 to 15 percent.
“If the victim bites, an exchange trick is performed in which the victim loses his cash, gold, or cryptocurrency and is saddled with counterfeit money,” the Belgian prosecutor said. “At this stage of the investigation, it seems that tens of millions of euros are involved every year.”
In addition to the arrests in the Netherlands, two people were also arrested in Belgium, and multiple international arrest warrants were issued. The Dutch authorities also seized a substantial amount of counterfeit money and real cash, various luxury watches, and wallets containing cryptocurrency.
The suspects are charged with hacking, computer fraud, theft, money laundering, and membership in a criminal organization.
Potential victims are still being approached, according to the Belgian prosecutor. “That is why the message is: never accept an appointment abroad, do not accept an ancillary deal in cash, crypto coins, or the like, indicate that you want to complete transactions via the normal channels, and a predetermined commission of 10 to 15 percent is too good to be true and therefore false,” the prosecutor said.