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The progress of digital channels is unfortunately accompanied by the development of scamming tactics. Although banking systems are completely secure, scams aimed at defrauding clients of their funds occur worldwide on a daily basis. To avoid traps, its is therefore important to be aware of the possible scamming methods and to recognise red flags when you get different proposals.
Don’t forget that scammers target not only private individuals, but also businesses, therefore make sure that you discuss the topis with your family members, colleagues and friends.
Scammers pursue the main objective of defrauding funds. This involves various psychological manipulations (aimed at persuading the client to make a hasty, irrational and unsafe decision), misleading the client by presenting a large amount of information, blackmail (aimed at emphasising the ‘inaptitude’ of the client and coercing him to take decisions without assessing the situation), pretending to be another person or business, faking internet websites, customer service, communication (aimed at persuading the client that he is communicating with someone who is not a scammer). Scammers also do their reconnaissance, i.e. they try to find out your details (e.g. via social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that they later use for in their scamming schemes.
In this case, scammers use a wide range of methods to approach their victims: phone, regular mail, e-mail, online. The client is under the impression that he is being contacted by a bank. The most frequent excuse is some urgent matter related to the client’s bank account: proposals to block an erroneous payment order, stop unauthorised actions, verify data, demands to repay a bank loan, information about a money transfer, etc.
If contact is made in writing (e-mail, text message), it often contains a request to press a link that looks like the bank’s website or online banking. The client is then asked to enter their log-in details which the scammers then steal.
If contact is made over the phone, the client may be asked to provide their user ID, personal ID number, card PIN code or number. Later on you may see a request to enter your passwords sent by your means of identification.
Don’t forget – the scammer wants the client to authorise a payment transaction because in that case scamming is more difficult to recognise, and recovery of the transaction amount is more problematic.
Below are some examples when clients have received letters purportedly sent by Šiaulių bankas. Please, note that the sender is unclear (despite referring to Šiaulių bankas, the e-mail address is not @sb.lt), the text of such messages often contains typographical or business language errors (but not necessarily – an increasing number of scammers have good writing skills), the letter contains attachments infected with a virus or directing to external websites.
Sometimes clients receive a call or a message (not necessarily from a bank – it may be another organisation), or press on an online advert offering to make an investment and get a quick return. Usually, such offers are ‘instantaneous’ – allegedly due to particularly favourable conditions. They are investment offers with a particularly low risk, offering quick and high return. Offers involving cryptocurrencies are particularly common. The information during communication with the scammer and on their website is presented rather professionally and sometimes involves the use of images of well-known people, false feedback and articles.
The aim of this scheme is to encourage logging-in to the investment platform and depositing a small amount of money (usually EUR 50-500). After the money is ‘employed’ it shows very profitable, albeit false, indicators that stimulate the desire to invest more funds.
The scam is usually discovered when the client tries to withdraw his funds. When the client tries to make a withdrawal, scammers ask for more money – purportedly to cover the ‘cash-out’ ‘fees’, etc. Alternatively, they may say that the account balance must amount to a certain sum, and that a ‘mirror’ payment would allegedly be made. The term ‘mirror’ payment is a scammers’ term claiming that the account balance must amount to the sum which is attempted to be transferred from the money earned.
When the defrauded person realises that they have lost their funds, scammers may take advantage of them once again by offering different legal services, purportedly aimed at recovering the funds.
Romantic scamming is based on a personal connection with the potential victim and usually happens online. It begins with messages inviting to become friends, the communication is then escalated into exchanging photos, phone calls, making plans for the future and planning a meeting. For this to happen, the scammer asks to transfer some money for some urgent reason (e.g. to buy a ticket, to address health issues, etc.). Such urgent situations often recur, each time followed by requests to transfer more money. Finally the scammer disappears.
It is one of the scamming methods where scammers advertise loans and ask to pay various fees (loan fee, notarisation fee, etc.) before the loan can be granted. Usually, the fees have to be transferred to a foreign bank. Needless to say, no loan is granted after the payment is made.
The same principle is used in prize and inheritance schemes when a person is contacted with information about a huge amount, and asked to pay fees before it can be transferred.
Deposits for the rent or purchase of housing is another scamming method. Scammers publish photos of accommodation allegedly offered for rent or sale, and coerce the interested persons into paying a deposit by wire transfer. Later on, the ‘owner’ of the apartment simply disappears.
Accident scams exploit human emotion and desire to help other people. Scammers approach their victims (usually persons in the senior age group) over the phone and pretend to be their relative or a representative of some government authority. In both cases, their story is similar: they tell about an accident and ask for financial support for treatment. Scammers often use online resources and social networks to collect their information in advance, therefore they may mention the relative’s name and even the potential circumstances how the accident could have credibly occurred.
Scammers use the same principle when contacting relatives demanding a repayment of a purported debt and making threats.
In this case, a company receives an e-mail from their business partner notifying a change in the bank account details for making payments to the partner. The notification usually refers to a purported ‘change of the bank account of the business partner’, etc. Scammer may create a very similar e-mail address and send a very similar invoice with different payment details.
This scamming method involves the sending of purported ‘outstanding’ invoices, or simply the sending of ‘invoices’ with a small note that it is an offer and that the payment of the invoice would mean acceptance of the offer. This method is particularly common in Scandinavian countries.