More common for fraudsters to say they work at authorities and companies

2023-04-19 | Frauds News Consumer

Fraudsters want to establish a credible façade to be able to deceive consumers. One way of achieving this is to make it look like the consumer is being contacted by a real authority or a real company. This then creates trust, enabling the fraudster to convince consumers to pay made-up fees. Finansinspektionen has seen several examples of this during the first quarter of 2023.

During the first quarter of 2023, Finansinspektionen (FI) has seen several examples of investment fraud where the fraudsters claim that they work for various authorities and well-known companies. Often, this occurs when consumers who previously invested in fraudulent schemes were contacted with offers to get their money back. The contact often takes place via telephone or email.

"We are seeing that it has become more common for fraudsters to say that they work at real authorities or well-known companies. They do this to create trust for their offer to help recover money lost," says Mikael Sandahl, a supervisor at FI.

Fraudsters claim that they work at Finansinspektionen or other authorities

During the period January–March 2023, FI received several complaints and information about fraudsters who were claiming that they worked at various authorities in Sweden or abroad. Some of the fraudsters claimed that they work at FI. In a few of the cases, the fraudsters also attached fake certifications (see the examples below).

The fraudsters primarily use three approaches. First, they offer to help recover money previously lost in scams, but only after the consumer first pays a fee. This fee is said to be a tax on profits or a commission for work performed in conjunction with recovering the money. In some cases, the consumer is asked directly to identify themselves using Bank ID so the fraudster can gain access to the consumer's bank accounts. The fraudster sometimes also claims that a fee must be paid for other reasons related to various made-up payments and transfers.

"The people the fraudsters are targeting with these phone calls or emails are sometimes those who have lost a lot of money and might be desperate for help. They are convinced that this will save them, so they agree to pay a fee in advance," says Sandahl.

Below are a number of examples of emails from fraudsters where they present themselves as being linked to FI in different ways. There is also an example of a false certification. FI does not have a department that works with the recovery of money from scams, and it does not issue this type of certification. 

It is common for fraudsters to claim that they come from actual companies
The trend we noted previously of fraudsters contacting consumers and saying that they work at or are calling on behalf of well-known companies has persisted. This also often occurs in conjunction with offers to help recover money from previous scams in exchange for a fee. In particular, it is common for fraudsters to say that they are calling from the real crypto companies Binance or Blockchain.
"Fraudsters use sophisticated methods. Sometimes the email address can contain the company's name, and in other cases the fraudsters copied a logo, links and contact information to make it look like they were from the company in question," says Mikael Sandahl.

Warnings issued in the first quarter

FI warns investors and others about doing business with companies that are not authorised to conduct financial business. During the first quarter of 2023, FI issued a warning about several companies, in part after multiple complaints from consumers.

For example, FI has issued a warning about Alfabtc, which offers trading in CFDs (contracts for difference, a type of derivative that FI considers not to be suitable for regular consumers) and is often linked to cryptocurrencies. The company has also stated that it has authorisation from FI, which it does not have, and it has changed its website several times and sometimes also calls itself Alfa-Crypx. FI has also issued a warning about RXK Capital, which offers similar types of arrangements and trading in CFDs. On its website, RXK Capital says that it does not have authorisation, but that this is not a problem for consumers.

Tips for how to avoid being tricked

Investment fraud occurs frequently and affects many consumers. The fraudsters are skilful and work both methodically and over the long term to trick people out of their money. Most often, they use a well-polished sales pitch and refer frequently to well-constructed façades that are difficult to identify as false. Therefore, FI publishes information on a regular basis about both ongoing frauds and common methods, and we also publish tips to help consumers avoid being caught in an investment fraud.

One example is our five top tips for how to identify a fraud attempt.

  • There is no such thing as fast, easy and safe investments.
  • Be sceptical about anyone offering you investment opportunities on social media, by telephone or by email.
  • Never do business with firms you know nothing about.
  • Be cautious with digital forms of your identification, and do not allow strangers access to your computer.
  • Check that the company has authorisation from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority and avoid companies on the Warning List.

Examples of fraudulent emails

Example 1: ATM card interception (in Swedish)
Example 2: Currency Transaction Report 
Example 3: Investment (in Swedish)
Example 4: Cryptocurrencies (in Swedish)
Example 5: False certification