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Society

Phone, Online Scams Netting More Unsuspecting Greek Victims

ATHENS – Hackers and phishers have become so sophisticated in Greece – some operating internationally – that the net they’ve built to rip off people with phone and Internet scams and schemes are growing and can’t be stopped.

Some computer and cell phone users are putting themselves at greater risk of being taken if not using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs,) anti-viral programs and encrypted email sites such as Proton or Startpage which block spam mails.

But still, said Kathimerini, the fraudsters are able to reach enough people, ranging from the gullible to the overeager or unsuspecting, that the scemes perpetuated are taking people for their money.

They included, the paper said, the Mayor of Minoa on Crete, Manolis Fragakis, whose bank account saw 7,800 euros ($8,500) taken although it wasn’t said what lured him in so easily.

The Hellenic Banking Association (HBA) said that bank account hackers are stealing about 500,000 euros ($513,127) daily or 175 million euros ($180 million) annually as there seems no end to people who are being taken.

Bank fraud detection systems are preventing others but people who talk to strangers on the phone and willingly give up bank account information, passwords and other data are ripe for the plucking.

The losses are believed to be even higher than estimated because many people don’t report the scams to police and turn to private investigators – who may be dubious – to find out who did it, which almost never happens, it was said.

The schemes can be very sophisticated, mimicking legitimate banking and other financial sites and targeting businesses as well, especially fraudulent investment companies that offer huge profits but drain people of their money, believing to be more than 200 million euros ($205.25 million) in Greece.

The absence of territorial restrictions and the use of sophisticated techniques for concealing digital traces make it difficult to detect computer fraud, the paper said, making it unlikey victims will ever recover anything.

Some 17 people in the northern cities of Katerini and Goumenissa are facing charges relating to electronic fraud, following a police investigation into two incidents that cost their victims almost 40,000 euros ($41,050) the paper said.

In Katerini, the victim placed an online ad for the sale of an agricultural vehicle and was contacted by a man who was interested and convinced the seller to give his bank details and passwords and transferred 18,000 euros ($18,473) to the accounts of seven people.

It was almost the same in Goumenissa, which also started with an online advertisement for farm machinery and the seller lost 21,300 euros ($21,859) from his bank accounts that were plundered.

People eager to get rich quick are also losing money through other scams similar to the notorious Ponzi Scheme that originated in the 1920s in the United States that offered investors chances to double their money.
Those who got in first made money but those who followed saw they were ripped off but the idea has proved hard to kill and has shown itself again in Greece with similar methods and techniques to get people.

In May 2021 in Greece, a site called Wind Media promised 10,000 members they could make a lot of money if they would click “like” on recommended videos and websites and they jumped in only to see their money taken.

There have been about a dozen similar scams that popped up online as the victims seem endless and it uses the same type of lure: you invest anywhere from 100-10,000 euros ($103-$10,263) in membership packages that promise high returns but find your money gone faster than your disbelief.

It’s happening too in sports betting and gambling online, offering rewards to people who actually lose their bets through guessing work on game and events and yet they line up to do it, while another involves bitcoin mining machines.i

In all of the scams the common denominator is people letting down their guard, being greedy and not protecting personal data.

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