A trap so tempting that you want to fall into it

A trap so tempting that you want to fall into it

Who among us doesn’t need money? And who wouldn’t like to know a great way to earn money quickly, a lot and without any special effort? This is of course possible, but… mainly in stories about fake investments that internet fraudsters try to sell us. They prepare traps that look not only credible and professional, but above all extremely tempting. We show you how not to get caught in them.

It could be an ad or a website. It also happens that information about a “unique opportunity” to obtain or multiply money reaches us in the form of an e-mail or SMS. There are many varieties of this fraud, just as the amounts of money that innocent victims lose in this way can be huge. They lose because “fake investment” scams are often highly refined, professional-looking, credible and… extremely tempting. How to defend yourself against them?

Too good to be true

The key social engineering technique used by criminals in the “fake investment” scam is to play on our emotions. They present a vision of quick profit or great funding, a mirage of easy money, and in the background – a path to realizing our ambitious plans and dreams. It looks a bit like a “table, cover yourself” fairy tale, but unlike a fairy tale, it makes an extremely believable impression. A plausible story, well-prepared graphics, a professional website – and it’s already getting scary. But the most dangerous thing is that because of the emotions aroused by criminals, we ourselves want to believe in this “wonderful opportunity”.

Even if something “glitches” or something arouses our doubts, many people will try to forget about it, just like casino guests or lottery players prefer not to remember about the small or even microscopic probability of winning. The vision that criminals offer is simply too tempting.

We must use common sense to defend ourselves in this situation. It’s nice to dream, but wake up! Our world does not consist of Santa Clauses who only want to hand out gifts, freebies and great opportunities to make money!

A simple but sad rule: if something looks so beautiful that we want to believe it’s true, it’s better to pinch ourselves and wake up, because it’s almost certainly a fraud.

What will the criminals come up with this time?

One thing has not changed for years – criminals are constantly looking for new ways to defraud potential victims. Therefore, it is worth remembering that the “miraculous methods” of multiplying money they propose vary. And there are constantly new, extremely attractive offers, often adapted to current events, trends or changes. Sometimes they refer to state investments (e.g. Baltic Pipe) or recently implemented legal acts (e.g. special subsidies, allowances). They take advantage of the situation in the country (e.g. tax refund period) or in the world (e.g. profitable “thanks” for financial support of Ukrainian troops).

Sometimes the story told by criminals is quite simple (you put in PLN 1, you take out PLN 100…), but quite often fake investments, at first glance, do not resemble a financial deposit in which someone offers an absurdly high rate of return. Often, the way criminals multiply money is unique, occasional, time-limited, and somewhat mysterious and complicated. This may be a crafted purchase of cryptocurrencies or tokens, an investment on an exotic stock exchange, or trading in stocks or shares. It may also be a time-limited promotion for bank deposits, a special edition of state treasury bonds, participation in an important investment or a guaranteed subsidy for every Polish citizen (after a symbolic payment…).

This list could be extended, but instead it is better to remind once again that all the proposed “wonderful ways of making money” have the same thing in common – the promise of easily obtaining a large sum of money.

Credibility due to the place of publication

An additional method used by fraudsters are various methods to increase the credibility of the presented offer. Many people will not trust an advertisement that appears, for example, while browsing social media – we usually approach this type of information with some distance.

But what if we come across an “expert” article or report on the Internet? Published on a website that looks almost identical to one of the famous business websites? In such a case, the number of scammers may turn out to be high, because not everyone will notice that certain functions or buttons on this website are inactive, and the address displayed in the browser bar only resembles the domain name of the original portal.

Credibility due to famous people or companies

Another common method is to strengthen credibility by using images of famous people from the world of business or politics, as well as popular companies or organizations. A simple example: in the case of an advertisement for one of the fake investments, there was a joint photo of a famous politician and the head of the largest fuel company, and the text underneath promised that the government would pay PLN 10,000 to every Pole who had previously invested only PLN 900. All you had to do was register, become an investor and transfer the required amount…

Once again, let’s remember the ingenuity of criminals. Theft of a company’s logo or the image of a famous person is not a problem for them, and in addition, it is usually a figure or organization that enjoys authority in the area to which the promised investment refers.

Reliability due to the ability to “track your profits”

Another element that strengthens the credibility of some fake investments is the ability to “control profits”. The victim of such a trick, usually spread over time, receives access to a special account on a fictitious investment portal, thanks to which he is supposedly able to observe the effects of the payments made. As you can easily guess, the invested amount – the fictitious one displayed on the fake portal – grows rapidly, confirming the victim’s belief in the correctness of the actions taken.

Criminals can achieve two benefits from this procedure. First, many victims are cautious at first, which translates into investing only a small amount. Only seeing “with your own eyes”, on a specially prepared website, that the investment is developing wonderfully, convinces you to commit larger sums of money, sometimes really serious ones. It happens that victims even invest their entire life savings or funds they do not have – borrowed from friends, family or through a loan.

Secondly, when the moment comes when the victim wants to withdraw the profit and invested funds, sometimes there is a need to pay some “additional fees”. Usually, these amounts are not that serious, especially compared to the amount that has already been transferred to the criminals’ account, so even those who are starting to lose faith in the truthfulness and miraculousness of the whole enterprise often decide to pay a little more. And some more. And one more thing – just to save the invested funds. As a result, they lose even more.

Do you want to invest? Consult a specialist

Don’t get carried away by emotions and don’t let your mind be lulled into beautiful dreams. Regardless of how credible and professional an offer, advertisement or even “expert” information you find on the Internet looks, try to verify it.

It is worth using the search engine and looking for additional knowledge (also on the website cert.pl), and above all, showing the found offer to a financial specialist, as well as to trusted friends or family. To protect yourself and others, also report the website or advertisement that raised your concerns to the CERT Polska team. The sum of such reports translates into our common cybersecurity.

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