Latvians have been scammed out of €3.5 million this year

Nearly €3.5 million has been scammed out of Latvia's population this year, but the State Police think that the damage was even higher, Latvian Television reported on June 7.

The biggest financial losses in recent months have been achieved by fraudsters setting up false investment platforms. One of the most popular examples – fake live broadcasting with Elon Musks with supposedly an opportunity to invest in his supported cryptocurrency. Fewer people are being scammed this way but the amounts are very large.

According to the State Police, people tend to take loans to invest as much as possible. These attempts of fraud are the most common for people under 40 years of age.

However, the most popular way remains unchanged – phone calls to residents, with fraudsters asking about anything the victim could trust.

The police said that the victim could be anyone.

“There are different prejudices. These people are not less intelligent in any way than everyone else. We've tried to figure out the profile. You'd be surprised how many people there are with higher education, PhD. Formal education and IQ have nothing to do with whether a person will become a victim or not,” said Andis Rinkevics, chief of the Preventive Division of the State Police.

This year, €1.7 million has been scammed through calls, €1.2 million has been lost on false financial platforms and nearly 3.5 million together with other types of fraud. The real amount is likely to be higher, as often the smaller amounts are not reported to the police.

“If a fraudster defrauds EUR 50 from each of us, the capacity of law enforcement authorities to sum up and put together each case, and to turn to another country to find out that it does not actually work. And that's what fraudsters use perfectly,” admitted the State Police.

SEB Bank also recently examined how convincing fraudsters were in phone calls. When the money goes missing from the account, getting it back is difficult. The bank noted that people tend to continue investing in false investment platforms for a long time, and also ignore bank warnings.

“We even often see these cases and address the customer. But the client has been convinced, he wants to earn, he seems to be getting easy money quickly and not listening to us. And we're accused of wanting to earn it for ourselves. It's a vicious cycle,” said Mārcis Pelcis, head of the security management of SEB Bank.

There is no brief or simple answer to the question of how to deal with this. Stopping fraudsters abroad could be easier by improving cooperation with other countries. But if they are outside Europe, it is particularly difficult to do so, and criminals are punished rarely. In the meantime, the police remind citizens to be careful, not to trust foreign callers, whatever they are asking, not to disclose bank access data, and if any offer sounds too good to be true, it is not likely to be a real offer.

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