A minor report to the Police Inspectorate in Saalfelden, Austria, has uncovered a major scam. A 45-year-old from Burgenland reportedly cheated Hungarian workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to feed his gambling and cryptocurrency-purchasing habits.
In January of this year, a 24-year-old Hungarian seasonal worker reported to the police station because he thought he was the victim of a fraudster. The police determined that he was correct, and that he was far from the only victim.
A subsequent investigation tracked down a 45-year-old unidentified man from Burgenland, Austria. By the time the police unraveled the mystery, they realized he had been able to siphon money from a number of victims.
Phone Fraud For Fun
The scammer looked for his victims on social media. Since he spoke Hungarian, most of his targets were Hungarian nationals who had worked in Austria and were now abroad again. Apparently, he was able to capture the first and last names of the victims and their dates of birth, focusing on those people who had “public” in the user profile in their social media profiles, such as Facebook.
With that information, and with intimate knowledge of the Austrian tax system, he was able to redirect payments the individuals should have received. He paid different people €500 (US$521) to allow him access to their bank accounts. This way, he could split the transfers between accounts and avoid detection.
Through the scam, the man was able to steal from at least 224 people between March 2020 and April 2022. From what investigators gathered, he took around €280,000 (US$291,844).
It also caused a headache for Vienna-based A-Trust, a digital security solutions company. It offers ID protection services for consumers, which the thief exploited. The company helped bring the scammer down after police figured out what was going on.
Through another scam, the man cheated 16 people out of money between 2005 and 2022. Initially, these victims were friends whom he told of various financial emergencies. He asked for money, falsely promising to repay the debt.
When that well dried up, he sought out victims whom he promised profitable investments in cryptocurrencies. He even convinced some to take out loans to make the investments. These scams caused the victims a total loss of at least €220,000 (US$229,306).
Police arrested and later released the man, but are charging him with fraud, money laundering, theft and other crimes. Those who offered their bank accounts to him will face charges of money laundering.
Online Scams Not Disappearing
Almost since the arrival of the mainstream Internet, some 40 years ago, there have been online scams. Despite an increase in security measures and better technology, they are still rampant as consumers continue to fall for the old tricks.
Most recently, UK police have had to launch a campaign to inform as many as 200,000 people that they might have fallen for a banking scam. The BBC reports that the fraudsters called their victims, claiming to be bank representatives and informing the “client” that his or her account suffered a breach.
The thieves then asked for certain personal details and security information associated with the account. The targets handed over the information freely. One client reportedly lost £3 million (US$3.6 million) through the scam. Most people reportedly lost a couple of thousand dollars each.
By now, consumers should know that no bank is going to call a customer and ask for someone’s banking details. However, some have apparently ignored the message. The good news with the UK banking scam is that police have already arrested over 120 people who organized and led the fraud.
Consumers aren’t the only ones who fall victim to digital scams. Even some of the biggest, most sophisticated companies in the world fail to properly protect their platforms. Gaming operator DraftKings is a perfect example, as it is now, once again, dealing with a public relations nightmare after a number of customers lost their holdings.
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