German media published news on a raid executed by an international team of German and Austrian officers. They raided 35 locations in five in order to find more evidence and arrest suspects regarding an online trading scam involving Israel-based binary trading company. Raids took place in call centers and apartments in the Czech Republic, Kosovo, Germany, and Austria. According to the news, they arrested 10 people who were possibly related to five different fraudulent websites:
These websites, or binary options brokers, operated on Tradologic platforms that were founded by an Israeli company but operated from Bulgaria. This is not the first time such international raids take place, as something similar happened in February 2019, when Austrian prosecutors raided offices of OptionStars, Goldenmarkets, OptionStarsGlobal, XTraderFX, SafeMarkets, and Cryptopoint. These brokers also operated on Tradologic platforms.
The only publicly known suspect is German Karsten Uwe Lenhoff, who has a long experience in betting and online gambling industry. Other suspects are not publicly known. Considering how over 200.000 Germans traded with these brokers, it easy to understand why such action took place. In the city of Saarbrücken alone, there are 233 alleged victims who lost around 40,000 euros on average. It is also believed how there are 400 websites similar to these, all operated by the same group of people.
According to a German television program, victims were recruited on the phone or via social networks. They were promised great payouts and fast profits. After they would make their first deposit, they were matched to a “specialist” who would advise them to deposit more and more as the next big trade that will bring them a lot of profit is just around the corner. Victims, allegedly, tried to withdraw their money but were unable to do so. The broker explained how there is a software glitch, or that they should wait for their dedicated advisor to come back to work after a vacation. Investigators believe how to real trading or investing took place at all. It seems that traders were simply clicking a virtual interface that just displayed certain data. The money was directly deposited to scammer’s bank accounts. These bank accounts were not in some shady banks as someone would suspect, but in reputable banks in Western Europe, like Sparkasse Koblenz and Fidor in Germany; Belgium’s ING; and Barclays Bank and HSBC in the United Kingdom.
Sparkasse Koblenz and Barclays issued statements in which they say how they closed the accounts belonging to frauds, while others respected the banking secrecy, but said they oblige the law in every way. According to some inside sources by German journalists, bank accounts were opened by men from Lithuania and Romania who indicated software distribution and consulting services as their business. It can be predicted how this will be an ongoing case, as it may happen that the investigation continues in Lithuania and Romania.