ATHENS – Hundreds of gullible Greeks have fallen prey to telephone phony investment scheme scams and been taken for at least 200 million euros ($225.52 million) in losses, part of an international ring of fraudsters.
The calls come from call centers in Albania and Ukraine or from cell phone numbers from financial districts like London or Zurich in a further attempt to try to show victims it’s legitimate.
Callers are persuaded to initially invest small sums in bogus investment firms with the operators promising huge returns, said Kathimerini, those taken not remembering the old line that if something is too good to be true it isn’t.
Members of a group of about 100 victims who spoke to the newspaer said they lost more than 5 million euros ($5.64 million,) but no details were given about how or to where they sent the money and expected giant profits.
The report said the gangs usually take people for small amounts of investments each so as to not make it worth their while to try to go through the courts to get it back.
It’s an old ruse that works repeatedly for those easily taken in by the promises and answering calls from people they don’t know or giving out personal and financial information on the phone instead of hanging up.
The scam has prospered now during the COVID-19 pandemic and more people turning to computers and the Internets for purchases and financial investments to try to get a return on their money.
The Hellenic Capital Market Commission was warned people about the scams but many keep falling for it with a call center fraudster making a cold call and the victim urged to invest about 250 euros ($289.10) initially.
They are then referred to a phony investment advisor – on the phone – who guides them through the process and also recommends cryptocurrencies and promising huge returns by betting right on their rise and fall in value.
Victims are then urged to register on an investment platform and to install remote access software on their computer so that the advisor can supposedly supervise their moves, taking control of their electronic devices.
“People who, for example, deposited 90,000 euros see a profit of 300,000 or more. But when the time comes for them to cash in on their profits … investors learn that in order to collect their profits, which they are told is in money that has not been declared, they will have to pay a very high tax, usually to the British government,” International Cybersecurity Institute chief, Manolis Sfakianakis told the paper saying that most victims are forced to borrow or sell assets to cover losses.