(Bloomberg) -- French authorities charged a pair of suspected fraudsters with taking part in a €2 million ($2.1 million) cryptocurrency scam to rob victims whom they tempted with suitcases full of fake bank notes or digital wallets loaded with funds.
The two were the first to face formal charges for fraud and money-laundering offenses after raids in the Paris region, the ski resort of Megeve and the French Riviera city of Cannes, prosecutors said Friday.
The fraudsters allegedly used fake identities to set up meetings with targets in luxury hotels and restaurants in locations such as Paris and Milan. The victims would then wire them crypto assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum in exchange for the counterfeit cash or digital wallets, officials said. The suspects would then manipulate the victims’ phones in order to get access to the funds.
Police seized two Porsches, one Bentley, a watch worth about €50,000, €280,000 of crypto assets and €58,000 in cash.
In France, investigative magistrates can decide to charge companies or individuals in a procedure known as “mise en examen” when there are serious or consistent clues showing likely involvement in wrongdoing. They can then decide whether to refer a case to trial — no such decision has been made in this probe — but aren’t involved after that stage.
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