Cryptocurrency has become a playground for nefarious actors, as European authorities investigate a series of elaborate crypto-scams that have been operated across the continent. With victims in Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels, con-artists have been able to take advantage of people’s trust and the nascent, barely regulated crypto industry to steal single-digit-millions of dollars.

The typical modus operandi of these criminals is to pretend to be investment agents and target blockchain-project executives. After luring them to a restaurant or hotel lobby with a seemingly too-good-to-be-true investment narrative, they ask for proof of funds and make the victim create a crypto wallet to fund – one chosen by the scammer.

Unfortunately, investigations have been hindered by the gangs’ ability to operate across different jurisdictions and the lack of information-database collaboration between police forces. Disturbingly, some of the victims have noticed scammers posing as victims in a Telegram group, to collect information on who they’ve spoken to and what they know.

Austrian authorities were able to convict an Austrian national with Serbian roots in November who was arrested in Rome; while in Germany, CoinDesk reported that authorities are actively investigating certain cases. In Italy, authorities are also investigating similar scams that have taken place in Rome.

The police are warning other crypto companies to be vigilant, as the con artists’ tactics become increasingly sophisticated. As one of their victims, Webverse co-founder Ahad Shams, puts it, “the scams that have taken place are like a scene out of untold Hollywood noir or neo-noir features.”

Key Points

  • Con-artists have scammed millions in Europe
  • Gangs operate across different jurisdictions, making it difficult to trace
  • Victims suspect cameras in the restaurant, hypnosis or wallet security flaws are being exploited
  • Austrian authorities convicted a criminal in November after a rip-deal
  • German and Italian authorities are actively investigating multiple such cases
  • Police are warning crypto companies to be vigilant


Crypto con artists have scammed millions of dollars across Europe with victims in Rome, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels. Police are warning crypto companies to be vigilant and investigations being conducted in Austria, Germany and Italy, as these gangs operate across different jurisdictions. Webverse co-founder Ahad Shams described it as a scene fit for a Hollywood movie.