In the phase of low interest rates, organized gangs relentlessly exploited the pressure of many private investors and their gullibility. With phishing e-mails, promises in social networks like Facebook and with alleged advertising films, they first tried to attract the attention and then the money of consumers. They fell for trustworthy statements from celebrities like Günter Jauch or the jurors of the well-known TV show “Höhle der Löwen”, who had nothing to do with the dubious platform providers like “Fx-Leader”.
But behind every investment, no matter how small, the usual entry amount was 250 euros, and for the high-risk financial transactions there was a total failure. The alleged profits never existed, investigators from Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are certain. The criminal police estimate the total annual damage to be up to 500 million euros.
On Monday, specialists in white-collar crime and cybercrime from both federal states and the public prosecutor’s offices from Göttingen and Rostock jointly announced a successful blow against an international ring of online investment fraudsters. With the support of Europol, Eurojust and foreign specialists, commercial and private premises in Cyprus, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Netherlands were searched last week. Various managing directors of online trading platforms, accountants and call center employees are being investigated for commercial and gang fraud. The best-known name of the “up to 170 affected platforms” is “Fx-Leader”. Numerous complaints about alleged fraud can be found on the Internet about the online provider of high-risk financial bets.
Even the experienced investigators from Braunschweig and Rostock are surprised by the dimensions of the case. Mario Krause, head of the Cybercrime Commissioner in Lower Saxony, speaks of “tens of thousands of victims” of investment fraud at a press conference. “You have probably lost hundreds of millions.” After almost two years of investigations, the prosecutors assume that the accused have offered gullible private investors business in the area of so-called difference contacts via several Internet platforms.
Customers were initially able to use smaller amounts for these bets, which in turn are characterized by a high risk of default. According to the state of the investigation, however, software simulated alleged profits. Fired by consultants in the call centers, consumers quickly put in five or six-digit amounts. Anyone who wanted their winnings paid out was put off – and their streak of luck ended abruptly.
Damage in Germany at 15 million euros
In Germany alone, a financial loss of 15 million euros has been proven at the present time, according to the press conference in Braunschweig. Investigators from Rostock assume, according to conservative estimates, of at least 500 million euros in total damage per year for all of Europe. The platforms are purely for “money transfer”, warns Chief Public Prosecutor Harald Nowack from Rostock. He does not give German investors much hope in the large-scale fraud. “Everything you put on is gone.”