Police say platform defrauded investors of ‘billions’ and earned €400 ($426) per minute.
Catalan police said on Friday that they detained the alleged Spanish head of an international crypto scam accused of stealing billions of euros from hundreds of thousands of investors.
The man was flying from Romania to Barcelona. As soon as his flight touched down, police say they entered the plane to arrest him.
He has been charged with belonging to a criminal organization and committing fraud.
The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) is behind a related international investigation. Last month, authorities coordinated raids in 15 call centers in Eastern Europe and made five other arrests.
The criminal network presented themselves as brokers who could help investors make a lot of money with small investments in crypto, according to Eurojust.
Suspects deceived victims by appearing professional with the call centers or using “other modes of so-called social engineering.” Then, according to Eurojust, they encouraged victims to invest on web platforms controlled by the criminal organization.
One of those platforms was the Everfx exchange, which was predominant in Spain. At one point, it was even an official sponsor of the Sevilla football club.
In Spain alone, authorities suspect that around 17,000 people fell victim to the scam.
Cryptocurrency has been at the center of some of the biggest financial scams in recent times.
Earlier this week, Sam Bankman-Fried was detained in the Bahamas for a host of financial crimes related to his FTX exchange.
The new CEO of FTX told US politicians that the platform’s collapse resulted in the loss of more than $7 billion.