It is very difficult to fight them, but in this article, we try to explore scams and possible solutions.
According to Szeretlek Magyarorszag, increasingly sophisticated systems are being used by scammers to scout their victims, using fake news sites that offer quick enrichment. Ads also often pass through Google and Facebook filters, writes Direkt 36, which is now involved in the processing of hundreds of thousands of fake news in international collaboration and uncovered the operation of advanced and working machinery behind online fraud, among other things.
In the advertisements of online investment swindlers, even PM Viktor Orbán promotes cryptocurrency with the title “Viktor Orbán presents a system that helps prevent the coronavirus from affecting the Hungarian economy”. Since the beginning of the year, similar fake news has multiplied in Hungarian as well. Unintentionally and unknowingly, for example, Mayor Gergely Karácsony, OTP President Sándor Csányi, and world-famous model Barbara Palvin promoted cryptocurrency in these advertisements.
Direkt 36 spoke to a source who was an employee of a call centre in Israel, which was responsible for the exploitation of people, and a young Hungarian man who paid up and lost 12 million forints. The investigative journalist also registered on a registration site promoted by Mayor Gergely Karácsony, then received a series of calls from aggressive, quick-to-get-rich “customer relationship managers”.
These types of scams are called €250 scams by the National Bureau of Investigation (NNI) because swindlers persuade their victims by phone to first pay an initial instalment of €250, and then even their full savings in hopes of getting rich quick. They promise big profits first, demand even more deposits, and eventually disappear with their customers’ money.
This type of fraud has thousands of victims in dozens of countries around the world, and as translation programs become more advanced and communication in foreign languages is easier, more and more Hungarians are affected. As the number of reports from Hungarian victims has increased so much in the last year and a half, NNI cybercrime investigators have started working on the case.
Fake news is most often distributed as advertisement on Google and Facebook. Google says tens of millions of fake pages are shut down every year, but scammers are constantly improving their methods, making it impossible to stand in the way of these scams once and for all. Swindlers, among other things, place ads related to search terms on Google’s interfaces, which generate revenue of millions of dollars for each click. In the case of Facebook, swindlers can advertise avoiding their downfall mainly by creating fake pages.
The production of ads and scamming the customers are handled by different groups of criminals who work together. Moreover, using methods known in the world of marketing, they even operate registration sites (under names like Bitcoin Revolution or Bitcoin Loophole) that collect customer data and then sell it to call centres that specialise in exploitation. Data for a single paying customer can be as high as $1,000 in this black market.
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