Crypto Scam Scheme Celebrity Scam!

Last Updated: 8. Januar 2024By

The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) has recently published a very interesting press release based on their experiences in 2023 regarding crypto and investment fraud systems. From my perspective, the basic methods and findings can be applied to the entire German-speaking market.

This is because identity theft of prominent individuals for fraudulent purposes in connection with crypto and online investments has also increased significantly in Germany. The FMA Austria is warning against the so-called „celebrity scam“, which can be translated as the „celebrity fraud scheme“.

FMA Austria: Number of dubious providers on the Austrian financial market is increasing The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) has observed a significant increase in unauthorized, alleged financial service providers on the Austrian financial market in 2023. In 2022, they had to publish 84 investor warnings, but in the past year there were 106; an increase of 26.2%. The vast majority of these providers operated online from abroad, were not reachable for other regulatory measures, or there were indications of fraudulent activity.

Most of these dubious providers appeared as web-based trading platforms, allegedly offering various financial instruments such as cryptocurrencies or investments in foreign exchange trading. However, in most cases, trading and investment were only simulated through manipulated software, deposits were embezzled, and alleged profits were never paid out.

Fraud with „celebrity scam“ Many of these dubious or even fraudulent providers advertise on their platform or in linked social media posts with supposed recommendations or insider tips from various celebrities who have allegedly made a lot of money quickly and easily with them. In recent months, there has been an increase in fake word and image posts claiming that celebrities such as Armin Wolf, Armin Assinger, DJ Ötzi, Alexander van der Bellen, Mirjam Weichselbraun, Christoph Grissemann or Barbara Karlich have invested with this financial service provider or used a certain trading software and made a lot of money. The same can be observed in Germany with well-known personalities such as Thomas Gottschalk, Günther Jauch, Carsten Maschmeyer, Barbara Schöneberger or Dieter Bohlen.

In reality, there is no cooperation, and the individuals depicted have not invested with these financial service providers. These public figures are being used as bait without their consent by financial scammers. The fake articles on social media falsely report on supposed appearances or interviews of celebrities in well-known TV formats (e.g. Millionenshow, Willkommen Österreich, Im Zentrum, 2 Minuten 2 Millionen) or in domestic media (e.g. ORF, Krone, OE24, Kurier), where they allegedly recommended this financial service provider or reported on their own investment successes.

Investors are lured in with high profit promises and fake claims If investors express interest in an investment with such a dubious provider and register on their platform, they are often recommended a small „test investment“ (usually 250 euros) with high profit promises and low risk. The fake account statement then shows the promised profit and encourages further investment with another „hot tip“. In some cases, small fictitious profits are even paid out at first.

The goal is to tempt customers into making higher and higher investments and deposits. However, as soon as the customer refuses further deposits or demands the payout of the high fictitious profits, contact with the platform operators is abruptly terminated. The cheated investors wait in vain for the payout of the allegedly earned profits (often in the 5- to 6-digit range). Compensation claims are usually not enforceable, as the trading platforms are fake and/or their operators are legally untraceable.

My conclusion: Examine crypto providers thoroughly! If you are planning a crypto or online investment with an unknown provider, it is advisable to first check with the responsible supervisory authority, such as the FMA in Austria or the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority BaFin, if the provider is even authorized to provide these financial services. It is also recommended to do an internet search to see if any investor warnings have already been published about this provider, for example by the FMA Austria, one of their sister supervisory authorities, or consumer protection organizations specialized in the internet, such as „Watchlist Internet“.

In general, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

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