A group of individuals Israelis took advantage of the fact the applications for the compensations were not thoroughly examined to defraud.
The French social services were defrauded via false claims and stolen identities during the pandemic. Unemployment benefits were illegally obtained, which amounted to millions of euros that were later laundered via crypto and transferred to Israel.
During the covid-19 lockdowns, the French government allowed businesses and companies that were affected by the lockdowns to receive immediate compensation.
A group of individuals with dual citizenship, Israeli and French took advantage of the fact the applications for the compensations were not thoroughly examined.
Thousands of false applications were sent, defrauding the French Treasury. The French government became aware of the fraud, and arrests were made but a large amount of the funds were never found.
France has been experiencing a significant rise in crypto-related fraud. Approximately 25% of all suspected fraud cases in France are related to cryptocurrencies.
A joint investigation led by Europol, France, and Israel discovered the individuals that have allegedly laundered the money via cryptocurrencies on behalf of the group that defrauded the French Treasury.
Local Israeli criminals lack knowledge of money laundering via cryptocurrencies. Instead, they hire crypto experts to carry the laundering on their behalf.
No details were provided on how the cryptocurrencies were traced and whether a coin mixer was used to launder the funds.
According to local reports, three arrests were made. The prime suspect is Alexander Verlin (31) from Haifa. Verlin denies the allegations, saying that he owns a legitimate business.
A gag order was issued on the identity of the woman that has been arrested, which is denying the allegations. The third arrest was of a young, religious man from Jerusalem that was arrested on his engagement day.
There were no intentions to arrest him until he threw his smartphone and laptop to the neighbor’s balcony when police officers were knocking at his door.
The investigation was conducted via the Cyber Unit of Police Unit 433 and the Yahalom Unit of the Tax Authority.
More Arrests Are Expected
During the international investigation, England and Canada approached Israel regarding crypto crimes that may have been committed by Israelis that are unrelated to the current investigation.
The Israeli police said that further developments on the ongoing investigation involving Canada and England will be released in the near future.