A major clampdown on selling fake shares in Europe has resulted in the arrest of more than 100 suspected fraudsters.
The arrests took place mainly in Spain and the UK as the police cracks down on "boiler room" fraud, which is called this due to the conditions the crime is typically carried out in.
Detectives working on the case stated that the aim of the two-year investigation, which has been codenamed Operation Rico, is to "decimate" boiler room fraud in Europe. They claim it is the largest study of its kind to have ever been launched.
City of London Police has led a series of raids to stop the selling of fake shares and Commander Steve Head, who is the national economic crime co-ordinator, told BBC News that it is the most important investigation this department has ever carried out.
He said it is “targeting people we believe are at the top of an organised crime network that has been facilitating boiler rooms across Europe and which is suspected of being responsible for millions of pounds of investment fraud”.
Commander Head added: "This is a landmark both from an investigative perspective and in terms of our close working partnership with other law enforcement agencies, most notably the Policía Nacional.”
City of London Police also worked with Spanish police and involved agencies in the UK and overseas, which included the US Secret Service, which shows the vast scope of the investigation into boiler room fraud in the UK and even further afield.
Some 300 police officers were involved in the raids, which targeted locations in Spain and the UK. In total, 84 arrests were made in Spain, while a further 20 individuals were detained in the UK, there were four arrests in Serbia and another two in the US.
Detective Inspector James Clancey, from City of London Police, who has been based in Spain for the operation, said: "This is us seeking to decimate a crime type."
Victims of the boiler room gangs are believed to have lost sums ranging from £2,000 to £500,000.
Similar issues to boiler room fraud were recently documented in the Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and is nominated for various Academy Awards.
Find up to date information on the FTSE 100 and spread betting strategies at City Index
GAIN Capital UK Limited (trading as “City Index”) is an execution-only service provider. This material, whether or not it states any opinions, is for general information purposes only and it does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. This material has been prepared using the thoughts and opinions of the author and these may change. However, City Index does not plan to provide further updates to any material once published and it is not under any obligation to keep this material up to date. This material is short term in nature and may only relate to facts and circumstances existing at a specific time or day. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment, legal, tax or other advice and no reliance should be placed on it.
No opinion given in this material constitutes a recommendation by City Index or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. The material has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research. Although City Index is not specifically prevented from dealing before providing this material, City Index does not seek to take advantage of the material prior to its dissemination. This material is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person in any country or jurisdiction where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation.