The Balkans are fast-becoming a hotbed of crypto scams, owing to the region’s disjointed financial regulations.
Cryptocurrency trading in the peninsula has risen dramatically, but the varying degrees of legal implementation across the Balkan nations are attracting a criminal element.
In Croatia, for example, cryptocurrencies are not considered to be money but an investment, meaning they are not taxable.
In Serbia, they are regarded as a medium of exchange and a person has to pay a 15% tax on the profit when selling.
The Slovenia Financial Office (Furs) recently suggested a 10% tax for any sum of a crypto sale.
The benevolence of the contrasting rules is, in expert eyes, creating fertile ground for scams and forgeries.
Ankur Banerjee – co-founder and the CTO of well-known data network Cheqd – says he believes that the aspect of how the governments are trying to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain is as interesting as it is confusing.
“Let’s be real, when you have blockchain projects around the world, it is very hard to find jurisdiction,” he said.
In the Serbian city of Ivanjica, a group of people were recently arrested after it was discovered they stole electricity in order to mine Bitcoin.
In the former home of infamous Serbian war criminal Draza Mihailovic, the group installed $6,000 worth of mining equipment and set them to be remotely controlled.
However, the scam was discovered when workers tried to access the basement in order to connect the lighting for a local music festival.
Scam discovered in Croatia
In the meantime, Croatia is also investigating a case in the city of Ludbreg where a 26-year old man allegedly created a fake banking website attached to the bank he was working at.
He is accused of taking the PIN numbers of hundreds of customers and transferring more than 200,000 euros to his account. With that money, he purchased 22,000 Bitcoins currently worth more than 900 million euros.
It is understood the suspect has since escaped custody and fled to neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.