Estonian police: People have lost over €1.5 million to scammers in 2023 so far

According to the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, people have lost more than €1.5 million to scammers in the first three months of this year and the most money was lost when investing or sharing personal data and PIN codes in fraudulent calls.

Urmet Tambre, the head of the bureau for criminal investigation at the Northern Police Department of the Police and Border Guard Board, said the situation was alarming because people were increasingly losing nearly all their money to scammers.

“Since the beginning of this year, scammers have become very active and are using more and more complex techniques to defraud people of money. However, you can avoid falling victim to scammers – do not share your Smart-ID, Mobile-ID and ID-card passwords with others or enter them at someone else’s request. I would like to remind everyone that PIN2 is a digital signature and it is the same as signing on paper,” he said.

In three months, 143 people have fallen victim to scam calls and their losses total nearly €776,000. The scammers call under various pretexts, claiming to be from the migration office, the bank or the police, in order to get people’s personal data and PIN codes, which, unfortunately, the scammers can also use to gain full access to bank accounts.

Mainly Russian-speaking scammers

Tambre said that mainly Russian-speaking scammers call from foreign numbers, but they also use digitally generated numbers, where the recipient’s phone displays the name or number of an agency.

“Often the call is supposedly forwarded to another agency, but in fact it is another scammer. I recommend hanging up and blocking the number,” he added.

The largest sums are lost by investing, for example, in March, a 54-year-old resident of Tallinn contacted the police after he came across an advertisement on the internet advertising investing. The man clicked on the link in the ad and entered his data on the website that opened. 

It's a bad idea to click on unverified internet ads and then enter your personal data. The photo is illustrative. Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.
It’s a bad idea to click on unverified internet ads and then enter your personal data. The photo is illustrative. Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.

After some time, he received a phone call in Russian from a supposed investment adviser who guided him through the trading platform and how to make the initial deposit. The victim transferred €20,480 to the trading platform, but soon realised the alleged earned profit and the invested money could no longer be withdrawn.

Refuse investment opportunities from strangers

“The internet has never been safe, it is not now and it will not be in the future. At the beginning, everything seems like the real thing and people see on the alleged website how the invested money brings great profits, but in fact it is all an illusion that the scammers display on the fake website,” Tambre said.

This year, 67 people have fallen victim to investment fraud and their losses total nearly €731,000. Tambre said investing was a good way to earn extra money, but it’s certainly not without risk.

“If a stranger or casual acquaintance offers a good investment opportunity or advice, please refuse, because it is a scam. I recommend you start investing from your home bank and you should definitely read the relevant literature in advance, where you can get good basic knowledge when starting to invest,” Tambre said.

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