Nowadays, fraudsters have no shortage of fantasy and in order to lure money can engage most sophisticated schemes. Some examples from real life have shown that people tend to realise they have fallen victims to scammers only after a considerable period of time and in unlikely circumstances. Asta Krikščiūnė, the Deputy Head of Function, Global Fraud Management at Danske Bank noted that various online scamming attempts has tripled as compared to 2017. Asta Krikščiūnė also mentioned that the threat caused by fraudsters in the future will only be enhancing with potential victims not only ordinary people seeking to get rich quickly, but even experienced corporate managers.
A desire to get rich quickly can be costly
The Bank of Lithuania points out that the most popular form of fraud today is an illegal investment activity, or investment scam. Residents are offered to invest, under allegedly extremely favourable terms, in shares, other securities, currency funds or cryptocurrencies. “Exclusive” scam offers target potential victims both online and by e-mail, or by contacting them directly by phone.
“The criminals seeking to illegally steal money from private individuals or businesses could be categorised as professionals and amateurs. In this case, we are talking about professional fraudsters who are genuine experts at what they are doing. They shouldn't be confused with phone fraudsters using only most primitive scamming tactics. Individuals engaged in illegal investment often represent fictitious, or sometimes even actually operating companies. They are usually very knowledgeable in the field of investment and can be very persuasive in freely using professional vocabulary. More importantly, they are also very good psychologists and communicators, therefore able to lure into their traps even some really educated, high-positioned individuals”, explains Krikščiūnė.
According to the representatives of the Bank of Lithuania, one of the features that is common to such fraudsters and which should immediately trigger a suspicion of a possible scam is that their investment offers sound just to good to be true. Therefore, any claims of rapid and high yield and risk-free investment should immediately be perceived as a red flag.
“Before taking any investment-related decision one should in all cases consult a bank specialist, and especially if the offer has come around quite unexpectedly. Besides, on its website the Bank of Lithuania publishes the list of all entities authorised to provide financial services in the country. There is also a list of entities offering financial services but blacklisted in Lithuania. As a minimum, the list should be referred to before taking an investment decision. It is also true that fraudsters may attempt hiding behind other well-known companies, so in fact all situations should be addressed on a case-by-case basis”, notes the Deputy Head of Function, Global Fraud Management at Danske Bank.
Employ sophisticated tactics
According to Krikščiūnė, there are also groups of organised criminals that target exclusively corporations and other institutions. These are fraudsters who can operate from the remotest corners of the world and use state-of-the-art technical solutions to try to break into corporate computer systems.
“Just to realise their schemes such criminals can watch the target for months, analyse its activities, scrutinise its clients and partners, and understand the subtleties of the industry the company operates in.” Fraudulent fantasy has no limits For example, by hacking the computers of the partners fraudsters can send requests on behalf of the suppliers for service payments to be transferred to a specified account. Often this is done very professionally causing no suspicion to the employees who eventually find themselves lured into the trap”, says Krikščiūnė.
The fraud prevention specialist also remembers having heard a case where fraudsters, after breaking into the computers of one company, sent an email to an accountant on behalf of her manager with a request to transfer a certain amount of money monthly to a specified bank account. The letter also asked the accountant not to tell anyone about these orders because they were allegedly linked to a secret project. The truth didn't come to light until about a year later, when, at a company party, the accountant thanked the manager for his confidence to involving her in the “secret” project.
“While this story is not related to Danske Bank, such examples nevertheless demonstrate that seeking to profiteer fraudsters engage all kinds of tactics, thus in this completely technology-dependent world every entity can be facing such threat. This makes it necessary for businesses to provide advanced security solutions, put in
place explicit security policies and procedures, provide requested training to the employees and to educate them on security issues,” says Krikščiūnė.
Major resources to fight fraud
Asta Krikščiūnė also mentioned substantial resources the banks allocate to fight fraud and protect their customers. For example, a team of professional specialists at the Global Fraud Management Division at Danske work hard to enhance fraud prevention and rush to help those who have fallen victim to the fraudsters.
“There have been cases where we had to respond to certain cases, stop monetary transactions and warn other banks even at night time. We apply advanced technologies, mathematical models that help us identify and stop illegal transactions. We also cooperate with international law enforcement agencies such as Interpol or Europol, law enforcement and banks of individual countries on all continents. For this we have colleagues who speak not only English, Danish or Spanish, but also, for example, Chinese. The entirety of the tools enables us to trace the illegal transactions and recover the money from fraudsters to be repaid to our customers”, Krikščiūnė.
According to her, it would be a mistake to believe that only very trustworthy persons can be caught up in the scam trap. Anyone can fall a victim to criminals, which makes it most important to remain vigilant and take all the necessary measures to prevent fraud at all times.
Pandemic is just another opportunity
The specialist also points out that fraudsters may become specifically active during crises, and the threat level remains high enough even after such crises are over.
According to Krikščiūnė, the pandemic currently caused by the coronavirus is conducive to fraudsters in the sense that like any other emergency it offers to criminals more opportunities to take advantage of people's fears and anxieties.
“Most often it is rogue amateurs that seek to exploit and abuse the subjects that the society is most sensitive to and human fears. During this pandemic, we have already had a chance to deal with cases where our clients lost money buying protection equipment from online stores they have never heard before, or donating funds to medics at suspicious fund raising platforms’, says Krikščiūnė.
According to her, the best protection against such criminals is vigilance and attentiveness. In most cases, all what needs to be done is to simply to check the security of websites, their security certificates, not to open suspicious e-mails or links, but, more importantly, not to provide one’s bank card or other personal data if the situation raises at least a slightest suspicion. Also use only protected computers and Internet networks, trusted software, and keep the passwords in secret.