The number of investment frauds, through which criminals promise extremely profitable opportunities, but which, in reality, do not exist or are deceptive is increasing, attracting the attention of the Romanian Police.
Investments in the stock marketFoto: Andrew Brookes / ImageSource / Profimedia
Online investing has become increasingly popular in recent years, but this growth has also given rise to scams that can leave you empty-handed.
Investment frauds represent diversified schemes and may include transactions with fictitious shares, non-existent cryptocurrencies, pyramid schemes or fictitious financial products, according to the IGPR.
From the notifications received by the Romanian Police, it was found that the injured persons had accessed various social media posts containing advertisements regarding financial investment services, and then provided contact information on the forms provided in those advertisements.
Contact by phone for investments
Next, they would have been contacted by phone by unknown persons, who used both Romanian and UK phone numbers.
The perpetrators, after repeated discussions, usually manage to convince the victims to sign up on various online investment platforms. The investments are quite small at the beginning, of the order of a few hundred euros. The investment consists in the purchase of cryptocurrencies and their transfer to the electronic wallets indicated by the criminals.
Those amounts then appear in the victim’s account opened on those investment platforms.
In many situations, under the pretext of providing technical support, the attackers convince the injured persons to install remote desktop applications (for remote control) on their used electronic devices (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), through which they gain total control of those devices.
Thus, without realizing the effect of their action, users give attackers access to all personal and banking data accessible through devices.
The injured persons are then convinced to send more sums of money (cryptocurrency) because the appearance is created that the investments are profitable, thus even reaching tens of thousands of euros “invested” in such fraudulent schemes.
When trying to withdraw the sums of money, a series of pretexts and scenarios are invented by which the authors try to convince the victims that, in order to benefit from that profit, they must transfer more sums of money, under pretexts such as: withdrawal, transfer guarantees, fines, etc.
Criminals promise immediate earnings
In parallel, the data accessible through the compromised devices is exploited in various ways, such as opening accounts on various cryptocurrency trading platforms, fraudulent bank transfers, money laundering, etc.
One of the frequently encountered fraud methods in the situation where users give attackers access to their own devices and bank data is to take out online loans in the name of injured persons and embezzle money.
Other ways of misleading potential investors can be represented by the promotion of ads, generally on social networks, in which images of well-known companies listed on the stock exchange are used, with the promise of very large immediate earnings by “buying shares ” which will “generate dividends” of tens of thousands of lei “directly on the card” of the users.
In such cases, attackers use malicious links, with the help of which they try to obtain personal and financial data from users.
What sets off criminals
Get-rich-quick promise: Investment scams often begin with enticing promises of quick and sure profits. Scam promoters try to attract “investors” using enticing language such as “double your investment in a week” or “guaranteed profits”;
The ease with which sums of money are relinquished: injured persons are persuaded to transfer, sometimes very large sums of money/cryptocurrency by unknown entities/persons, both initially and subsequently;
Relinquishment of control: Injured persons easily renounce, due to the desire to get rich quick and against the background of lack of technical knowledge, any measure of digital security, relinquishing total control of the electronic devices used;
High level of technical resources for attackers: Typically, attackers demonstrate increased skills in using available technical resources: multiple phone numbers, caller ID spoofing, fake platforms hosted outside Europe, anonymization of crypto-currency transactions, etc. .;
Pressure on Investors: Scam promoters can often use aggressive “advertising” tactics of “investments” to get users to act quickly, such as deadlines or exclusive opportunities that “go away fast”. In this way they try to avoid thorough checks, which could lead to the edification of the injured persons about the fraudulent scheme.
Careful! Investment fraud is frequently characterized by limited or conflicting investment information. Investors do not have access to basic information, such as the company’s physical location or investment strategies, but there is no shortage of promises of inflated returns.
Investment frauds can have a significant financial and emotional impact on victims.
Investors lose money and in some cases their life savings. Financial loss can lead to stress, depression and other problems of a social, family, etc. nature. Confidence in one’s own judgment can also be affected.
Recommendations of the Romanian Police to avoid falling into the trap
1. Financial education: The most effective way to protect yourself against investment frauds is to constantly educate yourself in the field of investments. Understand what a safe investment means, how to recognize the warning signs of a scam and be skeptical before investing money.
2. Digital education: the vast majority of computer attacks can be prevented by elementary cyber hygiene measures – strong passwords, increased attention to links/attachments from unknown sources, non-disclosure of personal data, multi-factor authentication.
3. Carefully check the firm/platform through which you are going to place your investments: Any firm or individual offering investment services must be licensed and authorized. Always check the background of a company and make sure they are properly licensed. We recommend that you also visit the website.
4. Beware of unrealistic promises: If it sounds too good to be true, it is more than likely a scam. Keep a critical eye and don’t be fooled by unrealistic promises of profits. Be skeptical of promises of huge, quick earnings, but also of ads that pose as limited-time offers. Financial investments involve risks and no authorized entity can guarantee profits!
5. Do not give personal or financial information to parties other than authorized parties. The purchase of shares can only be done through an authorized intermediary and they do not request payment or personal data via a website.
6. Request for written information: Always request written information such as investment prospectuses, company details or any other relevant document. Please read these documents carefully and make sure you understand everything involved.
7. Consult a third-party financial expert: If you are unsure about an investment opportunity, consult an independent financial expert. They can give you advice and assess the legitimacy of the investment.
8. Don’t give in to pressure to transfer money: Scam promoters can use aggressive tactics to get investors to act quickly, such as deadlines or exclusive opportunities that “disappear fast.”
9. Report fraud: If you are the victim of an investment fraud or suspect that someone is trying to defraud you, report the situation to financial authorities and the police.
An important documentation resource regarding legitimate investments is the website of the Financial Supervisory Authority (asfromania.ro). Here you can find updated information on legislation and authorization, but also a section of alerts and information about platforms not authorized to provide investment services and activities Financial Supervisory Authority – Investor Alerts – Information (asfromania.ro).