Don’t be duped by investment fraudsters
Released October 2023
Since the beginning of this year, fraudsters have used online platforms to steal as much as 10.89 million euros from unsuspecting Belgian investors, or an average of 1.21 million euros per month. And that is only the tip of the iceberg, since many cases of fraud go unreported. In the effort to call a halt to such online swindles, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) together with Wikifin, its financial education programme, is launching a new awareness campaign.
‘We want to make investors aware that trust in the provider has to be one of the most important factors in their choice. We are therefore offering them tools they can use to steer clear of fraudsters in the future’, according to Jean-Paul Servais, chairman of the FSMA.
Belgians are increasingly seeking out online investment platforms. But along the way, they are sometimes led astray and find themselves the target of well organized fraudsters. This year, the FSMA has already received 1403 reports of fraudulent practices, an average of five per day. That is up by a quarter over the same period last year.
Investigation has enabled the FSMA to identify 172 deceptive entities this year alone. Unfortunately, far too often, investment fraudsters are unmasked only once the harm is done. The reports received by the FSMA indicate that the average amount that victims have been swindled out of is 17,134 euros. The damage is therefore significant, and makes this form of fraud particularly lucrative for swindlers.
It is worth noting that many Belgians still think that online fraudsters are just lone wolves and that their attempts are often so amateurish that they can easily be recognized.
Yet, it is clear that the fraud is committed increasingly by well organized gangs, who behave like a company, with a call centre, graphic designer, manager, etc. Often, they work at an international level. It is important that Belgian investors have access to clear and accurate information so they can avoid falling into the hands of such organizations.
New campaign with useful tips
This is why Wikifin, the FSMA’s financial education programme, is launching a large-scale online awareness campaign: “Don’t be duped by investment fraudsters”. There is an accompanying campaign video, in which the ‘CEO’ of one of these gangs of fraudsters gives you a tour of his fake company and reveals how he leads investors up the garden path.
The campaign is designed for people of all ages. The figures indicate that the main target group for online fraudsters is Belgians between the ages of 40 and 70. One of the reasons for this is that this group generally has more financial resources.
‘However, people in their twenties and thirties are just as likely to be duped. Online fraudsters are particularly inventive and use all sorts of methods, often very professional in appearance, to hoodwink someone and gain their trust. They may do so by email or phone, via fake advertisements on social media, etc. Therefore, we are providing a set of helpful tips on our website to enable consumers to be alert and steer clear of fraudsters’, says Jean-Paul Servais, chairman of the FSMA.
The campaign material is available in FR and NL.
Landing Page FR:
Spot FR (30”):
Wikifin’s new awareness campaign runs from 2 October to 12 November 2023. More information is available on the website www.wikifin.be.
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