Until the spring of 2019, the LottoPalace scam website attacking German-speaking victims. A few weeks after the German scam mastermind Uwe Lenhoff was arrested, the website vanished. Lenhoff was found dead in his prison cell in July 2020 before he was formally indicted. Cause of death unknown. Lenhoff operated the call center Silkline Group sh.p.k. for his scams in Kosovo. And he was not the only one. In November 2020, German and Kosovo police agents executed a law enforcement action in Kosovo against another call center organization associated with lottery scams.
The Scam MO
Kosovo is a popular terrain for the operators of illegal boiler rooms (call centers). Through the arrest of Uwe Lenhoff and the related investigations, the authorities were able to gather extensive facts in this regard.
The lottery scam attacked mainly older people in Germany. The police assume damages in the millions. This is because the suspected fraudsters had been running the scam nationwide for years. The gang called older, single seniors in Germany and suggested them a lottery win of several hundred thousand euros. To obtain the supposed winnings, the victims were first persuaded to pay fees incurred for the prize distribution, such as transport, insurance, or notary fees. Consequently, the victims transferred money transfers to the scammers abroad, sent e-cash codes, shopping vouchers for large Internet portals, or personal money collections.
The Enforcement Action
The law enforcement agents succeeded in searching a total of 13 properties, arresting nine suspects, including the heads of the gang, and seizing extensive evidence. This included assets such as high-value vehicles as well as comprehensive technical equipment.
Cooperation between the Kosovar and German authorities with the support of the Center for International Legal Cooperation eventually led to a successful strike against this type of organized gang crime. In addition, the supporting criminal investigation department of Lower Bavaria also managed to significantly consolidate the investigation.