Police in England believe that many of those who lost funds in the scam are yet to come forward so they can get their crypto back.
They were drawn into investing in a fake savings and trading service that ended up being a rug pull — with victims based in the U.K, Europe, China, Australia, Hong Kong and the U.S.
It's believed that the scammers shut down their website and transferred funds into their own accounts after a "significant amount of money had been deposited" by users.
'Take Extreme Caution'
A 23-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were arrested for fraud and money laundering offenses, and have been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Harrop, who works for Greater Manchester Police's Economic and Cyber Crime Unit, said crypto saving and trading services are becoming increasingly popular — and fraudsters aren't just a danger to those who are new to digital assets. He added:
"Our lives are now online or on our phones, and currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are often seen as the future when it comes to money and trading. However, this type of crime is increasing across the globe and criminals are getting savvier by finding ways to exploit the trend, in ways even the most experienced users can't anticipate."
Detectives believe that there may be more victims out there who are owed money — and those affected by this particular scam are being urged to email OpGabbro@gmp.police.uk.
Those who get in touch are being asked to share the name of the service they had invested in, and offer wallet addresses and documentation to prove ownership.
Police are getting increasingly sophisticated when it comes to prosecuting crypto crime. Forces are training specialized officers who are familiar with digital assets, while blockchain intelligence firms also play a role in helping detectives follow the paper trail.
Analysts believe such high-profile cases are ultimately bullish for Bitcoin — boosting confidence among institutional investors and potentially making fraudsters think twice because of the transparency afforded by the blockchain.