Police Crack Multimillion-Dollar Real Estate Fraud Gang
European police claim to have dismantled an international organized crime group (OGC) that made millions from real estate fraud.
Law enforcers in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, supported by Europol, began operations against the gang back in 2017. However, it was during 10 so-called “action days” between September 2020 and September 2021 that the OGC was taken down.
Its leader was apparently found hiding in the Dominican Republic on fake documents, and extradited to Hungary last week.
Overall, 130 suspects were identified and 116 searches conducted. The group is estimated to have caused losses of around €3.5m ($4m) for over 470 victims.
The fraud gang worked by posting fake ads for properties up for sale or rent — tricking victims into sending deposit money and rent. The OGC also remotely hacked some victims’ PCs, stole financial details and carried out transactions without their knowledge, Europol claimed.
In some cases, COVID-19 was used as an excuse to install remote access software on these machines, it said.
Money mules were recruited in Hungary to open bank accounts, receive and transfer funds and carry out cryptocurrency transactions to help with money laundering — with the illegal proceeds sent