Year after year the number of scam victims increases. A multitude of frauds and scams exist and it is not always easy to avoid such traps.
Communication technology has contributed to the development of global scams, but crooks also continue to make contact by mail or by traditional phone calls. In most cases, fraudsters hide their identity to avoid being found by national authorities fighting against fraud.
- Be careful when you are contacted anonymously and take care in virtual meetings.
- Beware of easy money and free services.
- Always take the time to think before signing a contract, before using a service and before sending any money.
Some examples of recurring types of fraud and scams
Attempted fraud in relation to investments are on the increase
- Crypto currencies are a trending topic nowadays.
- The idea of investing money and having it quickly doubled, tripled or maybe more, sounds attractive.
- But maybe it’s too good to be true.
- Stop!! it may be a fraud.
- Cyber criminals have found ways to make fraud deals in this world.
- Thousands of people are getting trapped in online scams concerning cryptocurrency.
- The victims cannot report this scam to anyone as the transactions are done virtually without being traced.
- Do not reply to emails or inbound communications from strangers telling you they need help moving some money, where-after in exchange for your services, you are promised a portion of the funds.
- Do not give anyone your personal information, bank details, passwords or access to your computers using remote tools.
- Beware of emails that appear to be from services you use soliciting you for action, such as resetting your password, or clicking on links.
- Do not install software or log in to a website unless you are 100% sure it isn’t a fake one.
- Verify the legitimacy of URLs, Telegram groups, Twitter accounts, and more.
- Check on the internet if other people have evaluated the performance of the person and the company that offers you the investment in question.
- Information will be your best protection tool.
The “Commission de surveillance du secteur financier” in Luxembourg also publishes alerts on its website concerning investment companies without authorisation in Luxembourg. These alerts and other information can be found on the CSSF website:
In order to inform the public about these scams, the CSSF has also published a series of videos related to such financial frauds:
The various offers of streaming films, TV series and music from the Internet directly to a device, i.e., to watch them without prior download, lead to more and more search queries by consumers in search engines. Unfortunately, some of these search queries lead the interested parties to illegal streaming providers, with tempting offers and free promises.
Consumers are often taken in by scammers, and what can follow is an expensive subscription trap, computer viruses or even the theft of personal data. The other issue is that these illegal platforms feed a criminal black economy through copyright infringement and in fact cause widespread harm to the general public.
Phishing: Sending fake e-mails and SMS
Phishing is a form of fraud and scam that abuses your trust: a third party sends you e-mails or SMS messages in the name of a known company, with the intention of hijacking your personal or banking data via a link you are invited to click on. The e-mail or SMS is intended to make you believe that it is your bank, insurance company, etc., that is contacting you directly.
So never click on a link that looks suspicious and keep in mind that your bank never asks you for information by e-mail or SMS.
Subscriptions traps: route planners
Consumers are increasingly receiving e-mails with demands for payment of more than EUR 500, with threats to either engage a debt collection agency or the judicial authorities or other threats of similar content. These messages come from companies such as Media Work GmbH from Frankfurt or Dach-24 GmbH Interportale, also from Frankfurt. The latter companiesare not listed in the commercial register.
This concerns the use of online route planners, such as www.maps-routenplaner.info, www.maps-routenplaner.net, or www.maps-navi.info.
In order to use these services, consumers have to register with their email addresses on the site and click on the "Register" button.
The above-mentioned companies consider the registration as a conclusion of the contract already at a cost and send payment requests up to 500 EUR.
From a legal point of view this is not the case.
In order for a contract to be concluded for a fee, the fact that a fee is being charged must be made clear by clicking the button (i.e. with a button showing "Buy now" or "Purchase for a fee"). As this is not the case here, a chargeable contract has not been formed and therefore the claims should not be paid.
We regularly receive complaints from people who have been contacted by companies announcing to them a splendid sum of money that they apparently won in a lottery. The names of those companies (El Gordo, La Primitiva, Lottery Bill Gates etc.) as well as the countries in which they are registered (Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom) change regularly.
The so-called winners, however, have never participated in a lottery of that name. To obtain the prize, the company asks them for an advance payment (usually by “Western Union”) to cover legal fees. Even if you pay the sum, the prize will never reach your account.
Our advice: Do not respond to these messages. Remember that you have to participate in a lottery to be able to win.
Purchase / Sale of Vehicles
ECC Luxembourg is contacted daily by consumers who have put their car up for sale on a website or wish to buy a used car over the internet.
Buying a used car:
The vehicle of your dreams for a bargain! You contact the seller who then proposes to send the car to you so you can test it for a period of time. If you are not satisfied, you can return the car without issue. Transport will be provided through a forwarding agent and you will have codes allowing you to track transportation. However, you must pay half of the purchase price through “Western Union” before the car can be transported. Following the payment, you realize that you have actually bought a non-existent car on a fake website.
You put your vehicle up for sale on a website. A buyer contacts you and wants to purchase the car without even seeing it. It turns out that the check you´ve received exceeds the price agreed upon and the buyer thereafter asks you to either pay the remainder back or issue payment to cover transport fees through “Western Union”. After doing this, you actually realize that the checks were fake but the money you eventually reimbursed has disappeared from your account.
Be very careful whenever you are asked to pay through “Western Union”. This company itself insists on the fact that sending cash is not secure and that the sender must only forward money to trustworthy people.
Retailers, craftsmen, restaurant owners, active members of charities or just private individuals are constantly being contacted or even harassed by fraudulent companies offering to carry advertisements. These companies come mainly from France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany.
How can you tell if a business directory company is legitimate?
ECC Luxembourg has some advice to enable anyone to identify the fraudulent companies that they should avoid.
The operating method is usually identical. It usually involves an initial cold call by phone concerning the sale of advertising space in guides or directories, which are being published on paper or in computerized form (Internet site). Some of these companies go so far as to offer advertising space in guides that prove to be totally non-existent.
The cold call is followed by a fax confirmation in the form of an order for advertising space, partly completed by the sales representative. This initial contact is followed by aggressive warm-up calls and a second invoice for a much higher amount than the first invoice which is justified by a misunderstanding about the volume of the commitment made or the definition of the location of the advert. Some of these companies will offer a substantial reduction of the price for immediate payment in full.
What should you do before signing?
In terms of prevention, the persons contacted are advised to read the general terms and conditions of sale carefully, not to give in to pressure over the phone and not follow up any offers that may appear dubious.
In general, a legitimate company will allow you to take the time you need to think, and will generate order forms clearly showing the price per location, the number of spaces chosen, the total price excluding VAT, the amount of VAT, the price including VAT, the address details of the company (including the company registration number, etc.), the date and place of signature, legible general terms and conditions, etc. It is up to everyone to find out as much information as possible before signing and paying anything at all.
If, unfortunately, you have already signed a document and/or paid money, it is not too late to react. If it is certain that you have entered into a contractual relationship with a dishonest company, stop paying. It is not really in the interest of this type of company to pursue bad debtors through the courts because they would run the risk of the courts taking an interest in their own activities.
However, we should point out that there are legitimate businesses in the field of advertising sales, but the current proliferation of dishonest companies means that any person contacted should exercise extreme caution.