The Guardia Civil, through its Department Against Cybercrime of the Central Operational Unit, carried out the Operation Hodlife, in which one of the largest known cryptocurrency cyber fraudsters, fugitive from international justice and wanted by international police agencies since 2015, was arrested in Latvia.
Thanks to the volume of information provided by affected people in the citizen communication channels enabled by the Guardia Civil, it was possible to follow the trail of the launch of a new virtual currency, a project named by its creators as “HODLIFE, The Unicorn Token.”
In order to attract investment funds, they promised their holders to share part of the commissions of the operations carried out on this new platform. They did so through aggressive advertising campaigns on Twitter, Telegram and their website. They even enlisted the services of an actor, who recorded promotional videos of the project pretending to be its creator. In this way, the now arrested man took control of cryptocurrencies worth more than EUR 500,000, affecting more than a thousand people.
Finally, at the end of last June, the “rug pull” happened. This crime consists of the developers of a project abandoning it and fleeing with the investors’ money. That was when all investors realized their cryptocurrencies had been transferred to other wallets.
As a consequence, the Department Against Cybercrime of UCO started investigating and were able to trace the route followed by the stolen funds, despite the measures taken by the perpetrator to avoid it. The investigators finally discovered a digital wallet owned by a 29-year-old Lithuanian citizen who had been spending long periods of time in Spain since 2020.
An exclusive Costa del Sol area, in Spain, turned out to be the exact location from where the fraudster carried out all of his operations. The agents were able to verify the high standard of living that he and his companions were enjoying. It was also decisive for the investigators to know how they alternated residing in exclusive villas with staying in hotels, where they used the internet connections to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, as well as to transfer the stolen funds to their own wallets.
It was also disclosed that in reality this individual was not of Lithuanian origin but Latvian and that he had been carrying false personal documentation for several years. Once identified, the Guardia Civil activated all the mechanisms of international police cooperation and it was discovered that this person was the subject of a search, arrest and extradition warrant ordered by the United States in 2015 for committing frauds.