EU Agencies to Prioritize Cross-Border Crypto Scammers
- Crypto scams in 2022 exceeded the $1 billion mark.
- Scammers invented new ways to defraud users, such as posing as government officials.
- European regulators have set up crypto investigations to reduce the rate of cross-border crypto crimes.
The bear market was not all that crypto traders and projects had to cope with in 2022. The year also saw an increase in crypto crimes such as hacks, rug pulls, and online scams. At the end of the year, fraudsters began to concentrate on defrauding cryptocurrency investors who were desperately trying to recover their losses.
More than $1 billion was lost to crypto crimes in 2022, and law enforcement agents made it a priority to curb that trend. Since July 2022, firms and entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency industry have collaborated with international law enforcement to combat cross-border cryptocurrency scams. Investigations from these agencies revealed the different approaches used by cybercriminals, including a criminal network using call centers. European authorities reportedly interrogated 261 people, searched 22 locations, and made 30 arrests during the course of their investigation. They also seized electronic devices, a hardware wallet, and cash.
According to reports, officials from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, and Serbia have worked with Europol and Eurojust, two EU law enforcement institutions, to investigate and reduce online crypto crimes. The agencies discovered a criminal organization that caused losses totaling over $2.1 million, mostly to German investors.
Europol claims the crypto swindlers convinced their victims to invest in phony cryptocurrency investment programs and websites. Their victims were from countries like Canada, Germany, Australia, and Switzerland. The law enforcement agencies later set up a cross-border investigation team to prevent more cross-border crypto crimes.
Scammers operating out of four contact centers in eastern Europe persuaded potential victims to commit more money by promising them rich returns on small bets. Europol speculates that the losses could be more than accounted for due to the high number of unreported cases.
Preventing Crypto Hacks
There are several steps that authorities recommend for preventing crypto hacks. Users are advised to keep their software and operating systems up to date to ensure they are protected against known vulnerabilities. In addition, using strong and unique passwords for all accounts and enabling two-factor authentication offer increased security.
Furthermore, authorities advise users to use a hardware wallet to store cryptocurrencies offline and away from potential hackers. Also, users are to be cautious of phishing attempts and not click on links or enter personal information on suspicious websites.
Other safety measures include keeping backups of important information and storing them offline. Users are advised to contact their exchanges or wallet providers if they suspect they have been hacked and follow their advice on how to proceed.