In a coordinated operation against large-scale call centre fraud and money laundering, the authorities in Latvia and Lithuania have detained 108 persons (80 in Latvia and 28 in Lithuania) with support from Eurojust and Europol. During two action days taking place last week, hundreds of law enforcement officers searched and dismantled three call centres in Riga and Vilnius belonging to an organised crime group (OCG). Eurojust assisted in setting up a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case at very short notice.
According to initial calculations, the suspects were allegedly making illegal gains of more than EUR 3 million per month. The OCG approached victims by phone, promising high returns on investments in cryptocurrencies, commodities and foreign currencies. This approach was undertaken in a professional and convincing manner, with up to 200 fake traders proficient in English, Hindi, Polish and Russian used to defraud victims in various countries.
During the action days, funds and bank accounts were frozen. Cash and luxury vehicles were also seized, as well as cryptocurrencies with an estimated value of EUR 95 000.
In addition to setting up the JIT within a week, Eurojust helped to prepare the operation by organising a coordination meeting at a short notice.
Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre supported the investigation from the onset by bringing together the national investigators from Latvia and Lithuania to establish a joint strategy and to organise the intensive exchange of the evidence needed to prepare for the final phase of the investigation. Europol experts were deployed to Latvia and Lithuania to assist the national authorities with the action days.
The operation was carried out on the ground by:
- Latvia: Specialized Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) for organized crime and other branches; Latvian State Police (Valsts policija)
- Lithuania: PPO of Vilnius; Lithuanian Police (Lietuvos Policija)