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An Online Scam Can Happen to Anyone

If you have been scammed online, remember that you are not alone and that you can always get help. Almost everyone who uses the internet has come across an online scam at some point. Because scams are a profitable business, criminals constantly develop their scamming methods and are very good at manipulating their victims.

Online scams, also known as internet fraud, are a form of cybercrime or computer crime. Read more about cybercrime and its many forms.

Most online scams are never reported to the police, and in most cases the victim does not seek help. Many victims blame themselves and feel embarrassed that they were cheated. A scam can even happen without the victim noticing it at the time or even being aware that it is in fact a crime. Sometimes people optimistically hope after the event that it was not a scam, and they wait for the matter to resolve itself.

The number of online scams is growing all the time. For example, from January–June 2020, the Finnish police received more than a hundred complaints about online romance scams, and the total amount of money lost to scammers was nearly three million euros.(Yle)

Apart from financial loss, victims also suffer harm and psychological damage, which are difficult to measure in monetary terms.

Online fraud is a form of crime that evolves and changes form over time. For example, since spring 2020 the Covid-19 crisis has led to large-scale scam attempts.

Most online scams are committed from abroad, and are often conducted by organised international crime.

Apart from financial loss, victims also suffer harm and psychological damage, which is difficult to measure in monetary terms. The financial damage can be a burden that makes life difficult for many years or even for the rest of the victim’s life. It can have a negative effect on the victim’s life in many other areas as well, such as family, housing, work, mental health, socialising and substance use. The shame that comes from being cheated can cause deep psychological harm. Anger towards the perpetrator, as well as the bank or credit company, for example, can become a burden to the victim. If the victim’s data has been hacked, it can lead to insecurity and fear that the crime may happen again.

If you have been scammed

If you have lost money, your bank access codes or other personal information:

Victim Support Finland 116 006

Kuluttajaliiton maksuton neuvonta nettihuijatuille (in Finnish only)

If the financial loss is extensive, you may also receive debt counselling within your local municipality or the Guarantee Foundation.


How to Deal with Online Scams

Online scams can be divided into groups, depending on the method they use. The largest sums lost to online scammers occur through investment scams, romance scams and subscription traps.

Online Shopping Scams

Online shopping scams (also known as eCommerce scams) use webpages that look like an ordinary online store, a Facebook marketplace, or some other online forum where users sell things directly. In the scam, the buyer pays for the product in advance, but they never receive the product and the seller stops responding to all messages.

If you have paid for a product online but suspect a scam:

Read more


Sijoitushuijaukset

Investment Scams

In an investment scam, the victim is tricked into investing in shares, cryptocurrency, alternative energy or some other investment commodity. The number of investment scams has increased significantly in recent years, and the scams are mostly run by experienced international criminals.

How to spot an investment scam:

  • The scammer usually contacts the victim out of the blue and promises quick and guaranteed return on the investment
  • The scammer pressures the victim to make quick decisions
  • The offer is personal and must not be shared with others

Investment scams often involve large sums of money, and the scammers use efficient methods to manipulate their victim. In addition to online messaging, investment scammers can sometimes call the victim on the phone. The conversation usually takes place in English, and the conversation can feel oppressive, as the scammer often tries to pressure the victim into making an investment. Online investment scams use websites that look very convincing, and it can be extremely difficult to notice the scam.

If you suspect that you have been scammed by an investment scammer:

  • Contact the police
  • Contact your bank

Read more


Romance Scams

Romance scams trick the victim into giving money as part of a supposedly romantic relationship. The first contact is usually made on some social media platform or a dating site. The scammer wins the victim’s trust by painting the picture of a shared future. The scammer often asks for money after just a few weeks, although it can sometimes take several months before the scammer asks for money. Often the request is due to an emergency.

If you suspect that you are the victim of a romance scam:

Read more


Identity Theft

In identity theft, the criminal pretends to be another person. The criminal tricks a third party by using some of the other person’s personal information, access codes or other information used as proof of identity. Identity theft can happen in all sorts of places: the thief can pose as someone else on social media, make online purchases or subscribe to magazines using the victim’s data.

How can I protect myself from identity theft

7 signs that you may be a victim of identity theft

If you notice any one of these signs, you should act quickly:

  1. You receive an invoice or collection letter for a service or product you have not ordered personally
  2. You are notified (by text message, phone, email or letter) of a service that you have not subscribed to
  3. A sum of money has been drawn from your account that you cannot account for
  4. You receive a credit application form that you have not requested
  5. Your loan application is not approved, even when your credit is good
  6. You no longer receive letters from your service providers, such as your telephone company or newspaper subscription, you may also be notified of a changed address
  7. You get a notice that someone has requested a check on your credit information, even though you have not made any purchases yourself

If you notice any one of these signs, you should immediately contact the sender of the invoice and the police. You could also consider freezing your credit line to prevent others from making unauthorised purchases in your name. Source: Asiakastieto: 7 merkkiä siitä, että olet joutunut identiteettivarkauden uhriksi (in Finnish only)

Read more

Identity theft means using another person’s identity


Phishing

Phishing is a scam in which the scammer tries to trick the victim into giving his or her bank access codes, credit card data, usernames and passwords, or other personal information. The phishing email or text message often seems legitimate and appears to have been sent by a bank or phone operator, for instance. Phishing can also be done by phone. The scammer can also try to install remote desktop software on the victim’s computer, which is then used to blackmail the victim.

What you should do if your data was phished:

  • Change your password and enable two-step verification, which means that after giving your username and password, you are required to provide additional confirmation such as a code by text message or email
  • If you lose your bank access codes, contact your bank
  • Contact the police
  • Uninstall any remote desktop software that the scammer may have installed on your computer

Read more


Data Breaches

In a data breach, someone hacks a company’s computer security to steal confidential information. This means that the hacker can access ordinary users’ login data or personal data even when the users have not given the data to the hacker themselves.

You can try to avoid data breaches by using only the services of reliable companies. However, you must remember that the systems of large international companies are not invulnerable to hacking.

If your information is leaked in a data breach:

  • Change your password
  • Enable two-step verification, which means that after giving your username and password, you are required to provide an additional confirmation, such as a code, by text message or email (Read more at
  • If you lose your bank access codes, notify your bank
  • If necessary, contact the police
  • Make sure you do not use the same password for another service

Read more