One of the high-end cars being loaded onto a police flatbed

Portuguese described as “one of Europe’s largest crypto-scammers” arrested in Valencia

A 45-year-old Portuguese man, described as “one of Europe’s largest cryptocurrency scammers”, has been arrested in Spain following an investigation involving Europol and tech investigators.

The man, as yet unnamed, is believed to have made a fortune using a fairly standard Ponzi scheme to hoodwink people in Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

When he was arrested, 13 top-of-the-range cars were found in his basement garage, while ‘assets’ and money in bank accounts came to more than two and a half million euros.

According to police, the man operated through an online cryptocurrency investment platform publicised at sporting events, on radio programmes, even by charities.

Victims were reeled in by promises of a minimum return of 2.5% per week (more if they could persuade friends and acquaintances to come on board) – but the money paid to those who came in first was taken from the ones that followed.

Meantime, the Portuguese national is alleged to have “used victims’ money to lead a high standard of living with the purchase of high-end vehicles, travel etc.”

He came under the Guardia Civil spotlight in August, at which point “Operation Bitdrop” was mounted, and evidence minutely gathered.

The man currently faces seven crimes of fraud and money-laundering. It is unclear from today’s reports whether he is in preventive custody, or ‘at liberty’ pending trial. 

Anyone with any information, or who may have been a victim, is meantime encouraged to call Valencia Guardia Civil on 690.946.837.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com