One of Europe’s biggest suspected cryptocurrency fraudsters arrested in Spain. Source: El Pais

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One of Europe’s biggest suspected cryptocurrency fraudsters arrested in Spain

The Civil Guard has seized assets worth €2.5m from the 45-year-old man, who has Portuguese nationality and was detained in Valencia

El PaísValencia – Jan 03, 2022 – 10:27 CET

Some of the luxury vehicles seized from the fraud suspect.
Some of the luxury vehicles seized from the fraud suspect.GUARDIA CIVIL (Europa Press)

Spain’s Civil Guard has detained one of Europe’s biggest alleged cryptocurrency fraudsters, in Valencia city in the eastern Valencia region. The 45-year-old male suspect, who has Portuguese nationality, has had more than €2.5 million worth of assets seized, according to the force.

The man is suspected of seven offenses of fraud and money laundering, after creating an apparent cryptocurrency investment platform on a webpage, which was later promoted via forums, radio shows, sports events and even charities. The result was investment from a number of people in both Spain and Portugal. The police operation began in August, after the authorities became aware of the facts thanks to collaboration with private security.

The platform was offering a minimum return of 2.5% a week to investors, depending on the amount invested. The scam was basically a Ponzi scheme, whereby returns were being paid for by the funds provided by new investors, the Civil Guard explained.

The scheme encouraged victims to invest ever-greater amounts of money and to also work to attract more investors. The funds were allegedly being used by the suspect to pay for a high standard of living, including the purchase of luxury cars, vacations and meals.

The police investigation served to identify a number of the victims in Spain, and also determined that the suspect had allegedly committed offenses in Luxembourg, Switzerland and Portugal. On December 2, three searches were carried out: in the man’s home, business headquarters and workshop where some of his assets were hidden, according to the Civil Guard.

Crypto wallets

What’s more, a number of bank accounts and webpages with access to the platform have been blocked, as well as the sites where it was advertised. Documents and electronic devices – including computers, tablets, cellphones and USB cryptocurrency wallets – have also been seized.

A total of 20 luxury vehicles have been seized or identified by the authorities. The total value of the assets frozen, including cars and bank accounts, is more than €2.5 million.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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