Police and prosecutors from 17 countries in Latin America and the European Union combine their efforts to raise awareness about the most common investment scams involving cryptocurrencies - EL PAcCTO
Europa y America Latina / Cooperación internacional

Police and prosecutors from 17 countries in Latin America and the European Union combine their efforts to raise awareness about the most common investment scams involving cryptocurrencies

30 March 2022

Police and prosecutors from 17 countries in Latin America and the European Union (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay) have joined forces to launch a communication and awareness campaign for citizens.

The objective is to raise awareness about the main scams detected in cryptocurrency operations. This will mean that citizens will be able to spot how they work and the tricks that the fraudsters use. What’s more, if they have fallen victim to a scam, they will be able to find communication channels to report them.

From Brussels, Claudia Liebers, from the Directorate General INTPA of the European Commission said: “We need to be ready for challenges such as cyber threats. The campaign that we are presenting today is an example of the European Union’s work to forge firm alliances with our partners in Latin America”.

Sergio Muñoz Yáñez, general director of the Chilean Investigative Police talked about the campaign objectives: “alerting society to the most common scams involving cryptocurrencies, stopping them from falling victim and, if they have been affected, providing them with channels to file complaints.”

From Madrid, the general director of the Guardia Civil, a participant in the campaign, stressed the importance of this campaign to raise awareness and shed light on a booming digital medium, still unfamiliar to the general public, which can be used by transnational criminal networks to carry out large-scale swindles and frauds. Regarding the cooperation among the countries promoting the campaign, María Gámez highlighted that the Guardia Civil and the law enforcement agencies in Latin America and the European Union are aware of the need to act together when a common threat appears.

The general secretary of the FIIAPP, Inmaculada Zamora, said that “to fight against cybercrime such as cryptocurrency crime, which transcends borders, it is crucial to work in a network. At FIIAPP we are proud to help create networks like Cibel@ that ensure that the expertise of these public officials is shared, capitalised and promoted”

The campaign has two target audiences: the general public as potential victims of scams of this type and, at an operational level, the police and jurists of the participating countries.

The main objectives are, therefore, to raise awareness, train the general population and prevent these scams. It will also make it possible to gather evidence and record complaints to obtain an overview of the situation in each country and participate in joint police operations in both regions.

FakeCoins: six scams linked to six cryptocurrencies

To explain the criminals’ modus operandi, six fictitious cryptocurrencies were created for the campaign to illustrate the main scams detected. Several communication products have been designed around these scams that shape the campaign.

  • A website as a central hub for citizens. The address is fakecoins.org and it contains information about scams, tips to avoid falling for them and complaint telephone numbers for each country.
  • A promotional advertisement
  • Explanatory infographics on each type of scam
  • Signage for police and prosecutor’s offices

All the materials are published in Spanish, Latin Spanish, English and Portuguese.

The head of communication at EL PAcCTO, María Jesús Martín, explained that “like fake news, cryptocurrency scams have proliferated in recent years. This communication campaign uses the concept to identify scammers’ modus operandi.  The first thing to do to stop fake news and fake coins is to have the tools to detect them. There’s no question that the best investment begins with our safety”

In addition, this will be the first time a gender approach is included in a campaign of this type. When collecting data, the sex of the complainants will be taken into account to find out which scams are more targeted at men and at women. This will make specific information available to implement preventive actions and operations to protect women from cybercrime.

EL PAcCTO and the CibEL@ network

EL PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime) is an international cooperation programme funded by the European Union that seeks to contribute to security and justice in Latin America by supporting the fight against transnational organised crime.

Among other actions, the programme has promoted the CibEL@ network, a network of police officers from the European Union and Latin America that coordinates the response to cybercrime. All the countries participating in the campaign are part of the network currently led by Chile.

EL PAcCTO is led by the FIIAPP foundation (Spain) and Expertise France (France) with two coordinating partners, the IILA (Italy) and the Camôes Institute (Portugal).