LYON, France – Two suspects wanted in connection with an international Ponzi scheme which defrauded thousands of victims in the Republic of Korea have been arrested in Greece and Italy with INTERPOL support.
The Polish and German suspects, aged 49 and 61 respectively, were wanted internationally under INTERPOL Red Notices issued by Korean authorities for their alleged role in the scheme, which embezzled approximately EUR 28 million from some 2,000 Korean victims.
The arrests follow coordination between the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Greece, Italy, Poland and the Republic of Korea as well as the INTERPOL Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC), INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit, and its Cybercrime directorate.
The Polish suspect was arrested at Imola race circuit following real time information exchange between the NCB in Rome, Italy’s Guardia di Finanza Investigation unit and INTERPOL. Police at Athens International Airport arrested the German suspect as he attempted to travel to Dubai after an identity check detected his Red Notice status.
INTERPOL’s global network is further supporting on-going police investigations in Poland where criminals tied to the Ponzi scheme have allegedly scammed thousands of victims.
Posing as an investment opportunity promising attractive returns, the scheme exploited social media chat rooms to promote FutureNet, a large-scale international pyramid scheme which attracted investors via word of mouth and incited them to recruit others between 2016 and 2020.
The victims were led to believe they would benefit from their investment by buying advertisement packs and re-selling them at profit to new users via YouTube and Facebook.
"Whilst there is more work to be done, our thanks go to colleagues in Greece, Italy, Korea, and Poland for these important arrests,” added Mr Kavanagh.
“The world only gets smaller for fugitives when there are no borders, and close international police cooperation has never been more crucial,” added Mr Kavanagh.
The arrests come as part of INTERPOL’s Haechi initiative, supported by the Republic of Korea, which coordinates operations against cyber-enabled financial crime.
INTERPOL launched IFCACC earlier this year, to provide a coordinated global response against the exponential growth in transnational financial crime.