Police: Finns lost €5 million to foreign phone fraudsters

At first the scammers seem to deliver on their promises of big returns on investment - but it's all part of their fraud.

File picture of someone making a credit card payment via their mobile phone / Credit: iStock

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says that in the past year Finns have been swindled out of at least €5 million in phone fraud scams. And that’s just the amount they’re aware of.

In many cases the callers have a UK +44 number and ask about the victim’s assets and gives an opportunity to invest in a foreign company with the expectation of considerable returns on investment.

“The operation looks international, and scams have been reported all over Finland” says NBI’s Marko Leponen.

At first the scammers ask for relatively low amounts of money to be paid to a foreign bank account. They pay back a profit, which lures the victims into thinking they’re onto a sure thing.

Later communications between the scammer and their victims comes via email, when they’re asked for additional investment funds, but they’ll never see that money again.

“The first amount is usually between €200 to €300. In some cases the victims were soon refunded twice the amount, which is claimed to be a return on their investment” explains Leponen.

“The smaller amount being invested, with a claim that it made double, is just a scam. In reality the money is not invested in anything, but the trick is to get the victim hooked to invest more money. Some of the victims have even taken out loans” says Leponen.

Gaining computer access

In some cases, victims have been asked to install remote access devices in their home computers to allow the scammers to gain access to the computers, to track payments or make payments on behalf of the victim.

Police say that nobody should agree to install anything on their home computers just on the basis of a telephone call.

Victims mostly older

The National Bureau of Investigations says that many of the victims were older Finns, born between the 1940s and 1960s. However, some others were born in the 1980s and 1990s – a so-called ‘digital generation’ and still were fooled by the suspects.

Police advise that everybody should be careful no matter what their age, and never transfer funds to unknown people without knowing some background.

“If the offer sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true” say police.

Anyone who has been a victim of an investment scam has the option to report the crime online, or at their local police station.

Officials say that many people don’t want to tell their families about the situation, and reveal that they’ve been cheated. However, reporting the information is important police say to help catch the suspects.