The police have received reports of around 70 fraudulent investment offers so far this year, with losses reaching €1.5 million. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) registered around 170 such cases last year that caused a total of €3.4 million in damage.
The most cases were registered in January at 17, with June bringing 15 incidents. Only five cases of investment fraud were registered in May.
Head of the North Prefecture's criminal bureau Urmet Tambre told ERR that while April and May gave the police hope that people were no longer that susceptible to fraudulent schemes, June soon proved otherwise.
"We registered several cases in June where apparent investment activity had begun several months earlier, with people realizing they were being conned much later. It is possible that economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus left people more cautious financially," Tambre said.
Crafty criminals convince people to borrow
Tambre explained that fraudsters usually contact people by phone, while people sometimes fall victim to online ads and contact criminals themselves. He added that a new wave of fraud began a few years ago.
"The perpetrators call everyone they can and it does not matter how much money the person has. People are urged to invest €100 at first. They are shown graphics of how sums grow on the platform, with €100 becoming €130 by the next day," Tambre said.
Fraudsters have also urged people to borrow, promising hefty returns.
"The aim of these criminals is to keep people hooked for as long as possible and take them for everything they've got," Tambre said, adding that people are rushed into committing so as not to leave them time to think.
Victims are from all over Estonia and belong to different age groups.
Access to bank account determines communication
Tambre said that perpetrators aim to take over the person's computer by asking them to download programs like AnyDesk or TeamViewer. That gives them access to people's data and bank account that can be used to determine how to communicate with the person moving forward and how much potential they have as a target.
"The fraudsters are very confident over the phone and if they detect the person has doubts, they prey on their emotions, telling people they'll never be rich with that attitude etc. The victims are often afraid to disconnect the call," the head of the criminal bureau said.
Tambre said it is important for people to notify the police immediately as the perpetrators often operate from abroad and catching them requires international cooperation.
PPA urges caution
PPA data suggests fraudsters currently use sites such as liquidamp.com, financingfifty.com and mora-global.com.
The police urge people to be wary of such offers, notify the authorities immediately upon incurring damages, not give out their personal data to strangers, block numbers making suspicious calls and call the PPA information number 6123000.
Editor: Marcus Turovski