A bitcoin logo sits on a LL 1800W power unit supplying cryptocurrency mining machine. Austrian authorities are asking Interpol to help track down suspects in an alleged Bitcoin scam that blew up last year and may have hit at least hundreds, maybe thousands of investors in the country and abroad.
Prosecutors in Vienna are consolidating “hundreds of complaints” about a scheme known as “Optioment” that have been filed at police stations across the country, in addition to files submitted by financial watchdog FMA, spokeswoman Christina Ratz said by telephone. Die Presse
earlier reported that the total number of victims could exceed 10,000 and that as many as 12,000 Bitcoins ($115 million) may have been lost. Police have identified two people who are accused of fraud in the complaints, and are seeking to find several others, including some abroad, Ratz said.
Law enforcement officials asked Interpol to investigate additional suspects in Denmark, Latvia and Germany. No arrests have been made.
The investigation comes as the European Union’s financial-services chief has urged EU agencies to focus “heightened attention” on Bitcoin. The bloc is cracking down on exchanges operating without permission, tightening money-laundering rules and prosecuting fraudsters trying to jump on the bandwagon.
Optioment ran a website that’s now offline, and it held events attended by as many as 700 retail investors in Austria, Die Presse reported Thursday. Operators of the scheme told investors it was a “private Costa Rica-based Bitcoin fund,” according to a copy of its website hosted by the Internet Archive. It promised outsized returns through arbitrage trading. Read more from bloomberg.com…
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