Operation PANDORA Dismantles 12 Phone Fraud Call Centers, Apprehends 39 Fraudsters

Multinational Effort Targets Scammers Operating Across Europe and the Middle East

In a coordinated crackdown spanning multiple countries, law enforcement agencies have successfully shut down 12 call centers involved in a large-scale telephone fraud operation. The operation, dubbed “PANDORA,” led to the arrest of 21 individuals and the seizure of significant assets, dealing a blow to a criminal network responsible for defrauding thousands of victims across Europe and beyond.

The initiative, part of the EU Policy Cycle – Empact, saw collaboration between German, Albanian, Bosnian-Herzegovinian, Kosovar, and Lebanese police forces, with support from Europol. The operation targeted call centers engaged in a variety of fraudulent schemes, including fake police calls, investment scams, and romance fraud, among others.

Operation PANDORA originated from a vigilant bank teller in Freiburg, Germany, who raised suspicions when a customer attempted to withdraw over EUR 100,000 in cash, intending to fall prey to a ‘fake police officer scam.’ Prompt action by local law enforcement prevented the victim from handing over the money, leading to the arrest of the fraudsters.

Subsequent investigations revealed a staggering volume of scam calls, with over 28,000 recorded within just 48 hours. The perpetrators, operating from different countries, employed various tactics to deceive victims, posing as relatives, bank employees, or authorities to manipulate victims into parting with their savings.

As the probe expanded, authorities identified call centers in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Lebanon, each specializing in different types of fraud. To counter these operations, German investigators set up a dedicated call center, monitoring conversations in real-time and intervening to prevent further victimization.

Over a four-month period, law enforcement officers intercepted over 7,500 calls, preventing financial losses totaling over EUR 10 million. Europol provided crucial support throughout the operation, facilitating operational coordination and offering analytical assistance to dismantle the criminal infrastructure.

During the action day, which saw raids across multiple countries, over 60 German officers, supported by international counterparts and Europol specialists, apprehended 21 individuals and seized assets worth EUR 1 million. Additionally, substantial electronic evidence was secured, aiding ongoing investigations and potentially uncovering further criminal activity.

The success of Operation PANDORA underscores the effectiveness of international cooperation in combating transnational crime. By targeting the root of fraudulent operations and dismantling their infrastructure, authorities have dealt a significant blow to criminal networks preying on unsuspecting victims across borders.