Police in Cyprus have arrested a so-called high value suspect as part of a European operation against an organised crime group involved in binary fraud, Europol said on Monday.

The 54-year-old permanent resident was arrested in Limassol.

Law enforcement and judicial authorities from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands and Ukraine, supported by Europol and Eurojust, teamed up against an organised crime group involved in binary fraud.

The group was behind an online trading platform for financial services with binary options. Europol set up an Operational Task Force to support the cross-border investigation.

Operating between May 2019 and September 2021, the criminal network lured German investors into making transactions worth at least €15 million.

According to Europol, the suspects advertised the financial services online and via social media, while using over 250 domain names.

The criminal network, connected to a Ukraine-based company, had set up call centres in Bulgaria.

The approximately 100 employees of the two call centres, located in Sofia, contacted “clients” and advertised pretend financial services in the field of binary options under the guise of financial advisers.

To undertake the scam, the call centre employees had scripts containing predefined conversations and key messaging to convince clients to release more funds.

A subsequent investigation suggested that most of the employees were not aware the company they were working for was involved in fraud.

Initial profits shown in the user interface encouraged the clients to invest large sums of money but they did not receive payment of their winnings or credit balance once they requested it.

The investigation has so far led to 246 criminal proceedings across 15 German federal states.

During the action days, Europol deployed six experts to Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Ukraine to cross-check operational information in real-time against Europol’s databases so as to provide leads to investigators in the field.