From Swiping Right to Exposing a Crypto Theft Ring in Brazil


Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro

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South America

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Law Enforcement

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Products Used

TRM Forensics


A Brazil and Colombia-based criminal organization used dating apps to lure victims into meetings where they were drugged with Rohypnol and robbed of their cryptocurrency


  • Four Colombian national suspects arrested
  • False documents, cellular telephones, computers and other evidence seized
  • $6,000 USDT initially seized

The Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro (MPRJ) stands at the forefront of battling organized crime and specialized illicit activities in Rio de Janeiro. Their mission is to identify, prevent and dismantle organized cybercrime and specialized illicit activities in the State of Rio de Janeiro, as well as integrating the joint actions of State-based Public Prosecutor's Offices.

At the heart of their strategy lies the coordination of investigative actions by law enforcement and task forces, promoting and monitoring investigations, and exchanging information with intelligence and investigative bodies.

A cryptocurrency con

The target of a recent investigation was a cunning criminal organization, composed of individuals from Brazil and Colombia. The criminals were primarily focused on cryptocurrency theft. Utilizing dating apps as their hunting ground, they lured unsuspecting victims with the pretense of sharing a mutual interest in cryptocurrencies. 

The culmination of these deceptive interactions often led to in-person meetings, where the victims were drugged with substances like Rohypnol, rendering them unconscious and vulnerable. In one harrowing instance, a male victim was incapacitated by a female Colombian national, who then allowed the criminal organization to enter and steal approximately $23,000 USDT from his cryptocurrency accounts using his cellphone.

Operation Medellín: The hunt for cyber criminals

The MPRJ, spearheaded by Prosecutor Fabiano Gonçalves Cossermelli Oliveira, launched "Operation Medellín" to dismantle this sophisticated network.

“The victim contacted our Prosecution Office, indicating the criminals had stolen a great amount of cryptocurrency from his accounts, and he provided us with the blockchain addresses,” remarked Prosecutor Oliveira. 

The breakthrough in the case came when investigators traced stolen funds back to a suspect’s account. Oliveira continued, “Using TRM Forensics, we traced the funds and identified four Colombian citizens involved in this illicit action.”

On December 8, 2023, the coordinated efforts of the MPRJ, the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo, and the Military Police of São Paulo culminated in a decisive strike. This joint operation led to the issuance of five arrest warrants and five search and seizure warrants in São Paulo, resulting in the apprehension of four Colombian nationals and the seizure of false documents, cellular phones, computers and other critical evidence.

Additionally, approximately $6,000 USDT was recovered. However, the pursuit of justice continues as a female suspect remains at large, indicative of the broader international network of cryptocurrency theft.

Cracking the crypto code

This case is a testament to the relentless efforts and evolving tactics of the MPRJ in the fight against cybercrime. The successful apprehension and seizure operations conducted under "Operation Medellín" have not only brought a portion of the criminal network to justice but have also shed light on the larger issue of international cryptocurrency theft rings. The recovery of $6,000 USDT, though a fraction of the stolen assets, signifies the commitment of the MPRJ to dismantle sophisticated criminal operations.

This case not only highlights the complexity and evolving nature of cybercrime but also underscores the critical need for specialized units that know how to conduct crypto-enabled investigations. A recent survey of law enforcement officers showed that 7 in 10 investigators report that crypto crime investigations are “very” or “extremely” complex. 

MPRJ’s use of advanced blockchain intelligence tools to identify and mitigate such crimes sets a precedent in law enforcement's approach to modern-day crime-fighting.

Prosecutor Oliveira added, “Even if cryptocurrency operations provide the appearance of anonymity to the parties involved in the transactions, the blockchain offers plenty of interesting information that can help in resolving a criminal case. To identify this information, it’s essential to have access to the appropriate tools, such as TRM Forensics, especially to find correct attribution and open opportunities to request additional data from VASPs, which is essential to identify people related to a crime. The results reached in Operation Medellín wouldn’t be the same without TRM Forensics.” 

The outcomes of this case resonate beyond the immediate arrests and seizures; they represent a significant step in the ongoing battle against cybercrime. As MPRJ continues to adapt and respond to these challenges, their efforts serve to ensure the integrity of the financial system and protect innocent individuals from criminals.

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