How not to lose money in pursuit of easy money

There are 361 illegal financial companies operating in the country, the Central Bank said. At the same time, the number of companies with signs of financial pyramids in the first quarter of the year increased by one and a half times – from 58 to 85, and pseudo-brokers increased by two and a half times – 124 instead of 56. But illegal creditors calmed down their ardor – their number decreased by a hundred. Judging by the trend, instead of loans at “draconian” rates, Russians are striving for easy money – hence the interest in financial structures, which in fact turn out to be pyramids. The victims of scammers offering quick earnings at huge interest rates are people with “extra” money or with low financial literacy. How not to fall for the bait of the “heirs of Mavrodi”?

Almost half of illegal companies promising to increase their investments work online. As Valery Lyakh, director of the department for counteracting unfair practices of the Bank of Russia, said, the scammers stopped making open sites or do not leave contact information on the sites. Instead, they send targeted links to their services or make phone calls to potential victims. Famous bloggers are attracted for promotion. According to the Central Bank, on average 50–100 thousand rubles are extorted from the victim, although earlier the losses were 30–50 thousand rubles.

“Well-wishers” promising quick and easy capital growth are divided into two types – illegal forex dealers and financial pyramids. The former often hide behind the activities of a legal broker, offer to open a brokerage account and invest in promising projects. Pyramids attract money to allegedly “future” or poorly promoted cryptocurrencies, use online investment games, offer to invest in real estate construction or more exotic things. At the same time, they declare a return on investment of 100% and above. Communication with these two types of scammers ends in the same way – when a client tries to withdraw “profit”, they reset his accounts and stop communicating.

What is the reason for the current surge in “pyramid building”? It would seem that there are few prerequisites for their growth – after all, the incomes of the population are falling against the background of pandemic difficulties … The drop in deposit rates is partly to blame for the doubling of the number of pyramids, experts say. Interest income from deposits does not offset inflation, so many people send money to “investments”. At the same time, not fully understanding which of them are real and which are fraudulent.

Meanwhile, the State Duma has long been gathering dust on a bill to block the sites of financial pyramids, illegal creditors and phishing sites-copies of real companies. Anatoly Aksakov, head of the Duma Committee on Financial Markets, expressed the hope that the law would nevertheless be adopted by the end of the spring session and could come into force in the summer.

In the meantime, citizens themselves will have to recognize fraudsters and improve financial literacy. “However, the problem is not only in the“ illiteracy ”of the population in terms of personal finances, but also in the stressfulness of the current economic situation for most people. The fear of losing their hard-earned money or the desire to earn easy money makes people follow the lead of fraudsters, ”says Alexey Krichevsky, an expert at the Academy of Finance and Investment Management. According to him, pseudo brokers and other swindlers who recruit would-be investors are a relatively new type of scammers. If the imaginary “security services” of banks calling customers is already an outdated trick, then not many are aware of the new schemes.

Nevertheless, experts identify several signs by which you can recognize swindlers.

First, you should be on your guard if you are offered absolutely guaranteed or too high interest rates. You can find out the approximate profitability of various financial instruments by studying the conditions of well-known licensed brokers. If the income percentages are several times higher than the market ones, this is a reason for doubts.

Secondly, real companies never ask to transfer money to a third party’s card. For example, clients of the notorious structure “Cashbury” made transfers to the name of a certain Tatiana Sergeevna. They failed to return their hard-earned money: according to the law, the bank cannot interfere in the relationship between the sender and the recipient of the funds.

Thirdly, real brokers do not interfere with the withdrawal of profits and do not ask any commission for withdrawal.

Fourth, you need to carefully read the contract. The papers allegedly with a broker may indicate, for example, participation in a lottery.

Fifth, all legal financial companies have a license – you can check its availability on the Central Bank’s website in the Directory of Financial Market Participants.

What if you have already given money to scammers? The most obvious way is to file a report with the police. In addition, the Federal Fund for the Protection of the Rights of Investors and Shareholders operates in Russia. There, victims of financial pyramids will help to receive compensation – a maximum of 35 thousand rubles (for veterans of the Great Patriotic War – up to 250 thousand rubles), but only once in a lifetime.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28543 dated May 24, 2021

Newspaper headline:
The pandemic has built pyramids


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