Prosecutors in France have announced that they have successfully prosecuted two individuals operating as cryptocurrency con artists. These individuals allegedly used "suitcases" full of counterfeit cash to con cryptocurrency investors into handing over tens of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin (BTC), USD coin (USDC), and ethereum (ETH).
France Blue reported (1) that the two guys had been using aliases. According to reports, they successfully convinced potential victims "of many nationalities" to meet them in opulent hotels or upscale restaurants.
The two individuals allegedly approached cryptocurrency holders with offers to buy their coins that were far too good to be true. It appears that the two individuals pretended to be over-the-counter buyers of cryptocurrencies.
The information regarding the arrests, as well as the suspected offenses, was announced by the public prosecution office in Bordeaux. However, it seems that law enforcement officials from all throughout the country and even further afield were involved in the inquiry.
After defrauding a victim at a meeting in Milan, Italy, in July 2019, the alleged con artists made off with tokens worth over $1.5 million, according to the statements made by the prosecution. They appear to have stolen approximately $500,000 worth of cryptocurrency during meetings in 2020 that took place in Paris and then again in Milan.
The properties connected to the two suspects were searched by law enforcement. They claimed to have found cash totaling approximately $ 61,000 during the raids. They reportedly took possession of "two Porsche automobiles, a Bentley sedan, and a fancy watch believed to be worth over $53,000," according to the report.
How the Crime was Conducted?
The prosecutors clarified that the fraudsters gained their would-be targets' confidence by dazzling them with what seemed to be a large cache of currency notes in extravagant settings. As a result, the would-be targets permitted the men to access applications on their mobile phones. The alleged victims were impressed by the scammers' ability to gain their trust.
After that, the claimed con artists resorted to advanced methods of "manipulation" to "get the private keys" to the victims' cryptocurrency wallets and steal additional funds.
On suspicion of coordinated fraud, money laundering, illegal connection, counterfeiting, and refusal to comply with a police investigation, these two individuals have been held in pre-trial detention. The charges against them include those listed above.
The news report noted that they have also refused to tell the cops the passcodes for the mobile devices.
The investigation was initiated in Gironde, but investigators quickly expanded their search to include the territory around Paris. It appears that the alleged con artists targeted wealthy people as their victims. It appears that they were active in Cannes and Megève, a ski resort in the Alps that has grown popular with billionaires.