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A Crypto Scheme in Czechia Linked to Russian Tutors of Czech

In videos circulating Czech social media, alleged crypto traders, speaking heavily accented Czech in an environment with skyscraper-dotted Moscow in the background, claim to have made millions from an ingenious algorithm that trades cryptocurrencies traded in the Korean stock market.

MaresThe individuals claimed to have made millions trading cryptocurrencies. (Photo: Investigace.cz)Attractive.

However, OCCRP’s partner Investigace.cz took a closer look at the videos, which also included people who would make the advertised scheme rich instantly – including random bystanders or pizza boys.

Using facial recognition software, Investigace.cz found that the main characters, who presented themselves as Czech citizens, were from Russia. Two of them previously made a living teaching Czech. The supposed beneficiaries appear to be professional actors offering services to Russian advertising agencies.

Victims were lured into paying an initial investment, only to be asked for increasingly more fees. The scheme was linked to a crypto wallet containing over US$614,516 in apparent proceeds from the illegal activity.

Internet fraud is increasing worldwide. According to the latest FBI estimates, cybercrime profits reached US$6.9 billion in 2021, compared to $4.2 billion in 2020 and $3.5 billion in 2019.

The store spoke to a victim, identified as Marianna, a financially strapped mother from Slovakia. She submitted five such payments totaling more than US$400. Then she became suspicious.

“I have been told that new complications are emerging. The Ministry of Finance allegedly required me to pay tax for the transfer of the money, which was (an equivalent of) US$256. It was too much,” she said.

The store also managed to contact one of the main actors. He continued to pretend that he was indeed a professional crypto trader, defending himself with an argument that the videos contained his digital clones. However, when the reporters sent him a link to his profile on a language teaching portal, he blocked them.

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