Israeli police on Wednesday raided a call center in Petah Tikva and detained 15 individuals suspected of online investment fraud against citizens of Germany.
The raids were carried out at the request of German authorities, Israeli police said in a press release.
After questioning the 15 suspects, police released all but four, who were brought to Jerusalem Magistrate’s court today for a remand hearing and a request to extend their remand. The court prohibited publication of the names of the suspects until the next hearing in their case.
However, court documents showed that the suspects allegedly ran the websites IntegraOption, SolidCFD, Tradesolid, BitCapitalMarkets, Mycoinbanking, Getfinancial, Procapitalmarkets, Profitstrade, FXPace, Acceptrade and Gainfintech. Their websites used the platforms SpotOption and Tradologic. They allegedly ran call centers in Israel, Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova.
The suspects are part of a group of Israelis who allegedly established call centers in Israel and other countries, persuading individuals to invest money in forex, binary options, and other financial instruments. By the time those duped realized that the investments were fictitious, their money had already disappeared, police said.
During the Wednesday morning raid, police seized computers, cell phones, documents, and cash. Police also froze about $1.2 million held in various bank accounts
Earlier this month, police, acting in cooperation with the FBI, arrested dozens of people in Tel Aviv on suspicion of involvement in alleged massive fraud and money-laundering offenses related to digital forex trading. Two main suspects remain under investigation in that case: Guy Grinberg and Snir Moshe Hananya.
Police said at the time that the alleged cryptocurrency crimes involved victims abroad and amounted to tens of millions of shekels.
Israel has been a major hub of online investment scams, which also operate from Cyprus and throughout Eastern Europe.
When the binary options industry was outlawed via Knesset legislation in October 2017, largely as a result of investigative reporting by The Times of Israel that began with a March 2016 article entitled “The wolves of Tel Aviv,” some scammers shifted to schemes involving forex trading or cryptocurrency speculation.
Israeli law enforcement officials have prosecuted almost no online investment fraudsters, despite the fact that the industry has employed thousands of Israelis who have defrauded billions of dollars from victims worldwide.