The Swedish government is reacting to an alleged Bitcoin fraud scheme that targeted vulnerable people in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Ukrainian officials were reportedly informed of the allegations in a meeting on March 2.
An article published by national newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) alleges that the Ukraine-based Milton Group, an IT support company, defrauded victims in developed countries by proposing fake Bitcoin (BTC) investment schemes.
The reported “fraud factor” was exposed following a probe by Dagens Nyheter (DN). The paper claims that multiple people lost all of their savings via the scheme, which has potentially left 1,000 people from more than 50 nations with losses. The firm reportedly had telemarketers reaching out via cold calls to possible investors, who were older people many times, offering attractive returns on money placed into digital currencies and stocks.
The group reportedly scammed victims for over $70 million, with several examples of elderly people losing their life’s savings. Milton Group operates mainly out of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. The group was revealed to have employed ranks of telemarketers cold-calling potential investors, often older people, and offering inviting returns on money put into stocks and cryptocurrencies.
Documents that were handed to the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter by a whistleblower from inside the call center, exposes the inner workings of this group leverages the power of social media to operate on a global scale. The whistleblower claims to have been part of a “retention” team and was expected to make 300 calls each day. The victims were initially hooked via Facebook ads that targeted people interested in cryptocurrency.
The callers also frequently changed their presented identities to continue “squeezing the money” from clients. After selling a victim on a phony investment scheme, they would pose as lawyers and financial advisors promising to return the money that the victim invested — for a fee.
Some victims reportedly transferred over $1,000 every month to the group, while one elderly citizen was defrauded for as much as $200,000.
The whistleblower also revealed that the “sales” staff received different commissions based on payment method. Transfers via credit card and transmission services like Moneygram were valued at 4% and 6% respectively. Transfers in cryptocurrencies compensated the “salesman” with as much as 9%.
The victims, fooled by foreign names and addresses, and assurances of sky-high returns, believed they were on the phone with a legitimate investment business based in Western Europe.