In investment frauds the victims are scammed into investing money in, for example, shares, cryptocurrency, or alternative forms of energy. The number of investment frauds is increasing, and the frauds are often professional international crimes. In a worst case scenario the victims lose millions of euros in investment frauds.
On this page you can find information about investment fraud, instructions for victims of investment frauds and for the victim’s friends and family, and information about organizations that offer help.
How to identify an investment fraud
The best way to protect yourself from investment fraud and prevent falling victim to fraud is to identify the so-called warning signs on websites and in advertising, in transactions on the bank account or in the behaviour of the “investment advisor” who contacted you.
Warning signs of an investment fraud
- The investment seems too good to be true.
- You are pressured into acting and deciding.
- “Only for you”, “limited opportunity”. The fantastic investment is only offered to a very limited group. Consider why you have been chosen to receive these excellent investment tips.
- The call or e-mail comes from abroad and from an entity that is previously unknown. The person who contacts you usually speaks English.
- The investment provider does not have authorisation. This is perhaps the most important sign of fraud. To offer investment services in Finland you need either an authorisation from the Financial Supervisory Authority or an authorisation from another country and a notification from the Financial Supervisory Authority about offering investment services in Finland. The Company register on the Financial Supervisory Authority’s website contains all service producers with authorisation in Finland. Do keep in mind that new service producers appear so quickly that all are not found in time in the Financial Supervisory Authority’s registers. Financial Supervisory Authority
Pay particular attention if you are asked to give the following information
- online banking details or credit card details
- log in details for your virtual wallet
- personal data
The information above should never be given to other people. In addition to investment fraud, phishing for such personal data can for example be linked to identity theft or money laundering.
Identity theft | Cybercrime takes many forms
It is most likely an investment fraud if…
- someone else makes unusual withdrawals from the bank account
- the profit from the investments is not paid into the bank account
- the contact from the investment adviser is aggressive and pressures you into making investments.
Have you fallen victim of an investment fraud?
- Contact the bank immediately
Tell the bank what happened and make a request for reimbursement. It is important to act quickly.
- File a report of an offence to the police: Police
Protection of personal data after a crime
It is very important to protect your personal data after a crime.
1. Protect your credit information with a voluntary credit ban
When you make a voluntary credit ban it is more difficult to take a credit card or a bank loan or to use instalment payment with your personal data. This makes the misuse of your data more difficult. However, you can take a loan yourself by showing the certificate of the credit ban. The ban is in effect for two years but can also be cancelled earlier.
If you cannot afford to pay the credit ban, you can investigate your possibilities for social assistance.
2. Block notification of change of address
Apply for a form block to Posti or a ban on address changes to Posti and the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
If your personal data has been stolen the form block ensures that no one can change your address with a printed notification of change of address. The notification of change of address can still be made online by identification with online banking codes.
The ban on address changes completely prevents any kind of change of address or interruption of distribution.
3. Ban on disclosure of personal data to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency
When you prohibit the disclosure of your contact information from different registers, third parties cannot get information about you from the address and contact information services. Digital and Population Data Services Agency
4. Prohibition of registration to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office
When you have a prohibition of registration your information cannot be changed, and your name cannot be registered as a person responsible for a company or an organisation in the Finnish Trade Register, Finnish Register of Associations or Finnish Register of Foundations without your consent. Finnish Patent and Registration Office
If you are in financial crisis
If you have debts due to the fraud and need help to manage your finances, you can consider applying for debt adjustment. Contact the financial and debt counsellor in your own region or the Guarantee Foundation. Both services are free of charge.
This is how an investment fraud looks like
Today, investment frauds usually start from a paid advertisement published on social media or in a search engine. Such advertisements typically promise the moon: unique investment opportunities and possibility of large profits quickly.
The advertisements often emphasize that it is urgent. The investor is led to believe that he must act immediately in order not to lose the unique opportunity to get rich. The goal is, that the person who has seen the advertisement shall act without thinking and not stop to think whether the advertiser seems trustworthy or whether the website to which the user is referred is secure.
The victims are manipulated into giving their money
Large sums of money are in circulation in frauds and the fraudsters use effective methods to manipulate the victims. The tone in the discussions is sometimes persuasive and sometimes pressuring. The websites related to the fraud look credible and it can be difficult to detect the fraud.
Most often the fraudster entices the victim to invest money in, for example, the virtual currency Bitcoin, but does not necessarily make an actual investment, he only takes the money or at least keeps the rights to the account for the virtual currency wallet to himself. Investment fraud essentially involves the fraudster getting hold of the victim’s online banking codes or credit card details, whereby he gains the access rights to the account to “invest” the victim’s money on his behalf.
Read also (in Finnish): Virtuaalivarkaat ja vorot webissä – onko mitään tehtävissä?
Anyone can fall victim to fraud
It is easy to appeal to a person through feelings or needs when the time is right. It is important to understand that it is not about the victim being particularly gullible. Fraudsters are experts at deception and manipulation, and they are constantly honing their skills.
The online discussions are often very confidential, and the fraudster seems very interested in you and your opportunity to get rich. The fraudster is helpful and tells many success stories.
It is common to first invest small sums which makes it look like you profited from the investment. After this you can be encouraged to a unique opportunity to invest larger sums of money which will also result in significantly bigger profits. A sense of urgency is created which can make the ability to judge fail and when you once have invested or sent money somewhere, the threshold is lower in the future.
People may often dream of getting rich or getting their finances in order quickly. Sometimes you can become addicted to the possibility of a real jackpot.
People are often ashamed of having been scammed
It is common that the victim is ashamed of having been scammed. The strong feeling of shame can prevent the victim from taking action to investigate the crime. Friends and family may already have warned the victim, and this can increase the feeling of shame even more.
The victim can get stuck in the feeling of shame, whereby the ability to function can be reduced. Other consequences can be health problems, such as insomnia, rhythm disorders, depression, drug abuse and even self-destructive thoughts.
The feelings of shame can be eased by talking to a professional. Friends and family can also be of great support. You can discuss different possibilities to cope with the situation with friends and family or a professional. The Victim Support Finland’s services are also intended for victims of investment fraud or the victim’s friends and family.
Conversational therapy and psychological support
- Social and Crisis Emergency Service in the region (24 H): See detailed contact information on the regional websites.
- MIELI Mental Health Finland’s national Crisis Helpline 09 2525 0111 (24 H) and chat
- MIELI Mental Health Finland’s national Crisis Centre network: Meeting via video, phone or face-to-face by appointment
- Sekasin-chat (24 H, 12–29-year-olds)
- The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare’s helplines: Parents’ helpline 0800 92277 (in Finnish) and chat. Children and Youth helpline 116 111 (in Finnish) and chat.
- The church’s conversational support 0400 22 11 80 (in Finnish and Swedish)
- Private therapy, crisis therapy (if the financial situation allows)
- Financial and debt counselling (telephone and chat): See the contact information for your local Legal Aid Office from the Financial and debt counselling website.
- Guarantee Foundation: Counselling helpline 0800 9 8009 and Ask about money chat (in Finnish).
Checklist for people close to a victim of investment fraud
- Do not process the victim’s shame too much or try to save the victim – you are not a therapist
- Take care of your own well-being and be careful not to tire yourself out
- Encourage the victim to talk about what happened and about the feelings with a professional
- Strengthen the things that seem to help the victim
- Remind yourself of the positive things in your relationship, even when things seem dark.
A constantly developing phenomenon
The above are just a few examples of typical ways to carry out an investment fraud. It is good to remember that there are countless ways to commit investment frauds and they are constantly evolving. Old frauds are constantly being replaced by new frauds.
– There has been a trend for a long time where people are enticed to invest money in virtual currencies through dating services, such as Tinder, and lose their money like that. It begins with a search for love, but the money disappears through an investment fraud, says Marko Erämaa from the National Bureau of Investigation. Also read: Online romance scams
Investment frauds in numbers
According to the National Bureau of Investigation around 530 reports of an offence were made to the police in 2021 about different investment frauds. 90 percent of these cases were already committed crimes. All victims of investment fraud do not file a report of an offence.
Of those who filed a report on an offence just under 500 people lost money because of the crime. In total, around 17.2 million euros were stolen from victim’s accounts in investment frauds in 2021. The largest amount stolen from a single person was around 1.4 million euros in 2021.
The police do not have exact information on how many of the crime victims got their money back. The process can go on for a very long time to get even a part of the victim’s money back.
In 2021, 70 percent of investment fraud victims were men. Although the general perception is that a typical victim of investment fraud is elderly people with weak technology skills, around 40 percent of the victims are 30-50 years old.