I gave my salary to “brokers”: how not to fall for the bait of a new type of scammers


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“Brokers” from the Marshall Islands

Moscow resident D. succumbed to persuasion and decided to earn extra money. She gave all her money to a non-existent online broker.

“I was looking for an opportunity to earn money. I saw a website where it was proposed to invest funds. I left a request and they called me back.

At first, the brokers told me that I needed to deposit 35 thousand rubles. And they will trade on the stock exchange and manage my funds. This was my salary, and I invested it in this business. Then they started telling me that I needed to contribute more. And so several times,” says D.

D. even took out a loan to invest more money; in total, she gave the “brokers” 500 thousand rubles.

“They told me that I earned something like 79 thousand rubles, but first I still had to pay some taxes for 40 thousand, and then they would transfer the money to me,” says D. And then the “investment specialists” stopped answering for calls.
“I realized it was a scam. But only later, not right away,” admits D. The victim of the scammers twice filed a statement with the police, but was refused; there was no corpus delicti: “she gave the money herself, it’s her own fault.”

And there was nothing to repay loans with. D. turned to a lawyer for help, and through the court she was declared bankrupt. Well, the scammers continue to “bomb” D. with calls from different numbers and invite him to investment companies; apparently, the victims’ contacts fall into some kind of common database.

“They tell me: ‘You submitted a request for brokerage services,’ but I already know what it is,” notes D.

Here is what Maria Sisneva, a clinical psychologist who helped D. in trying to get on the trail of scammers and find help from law enforcement agencies, says: “D. signed an agreement with a legal entity. And I transferred the money via phone number to an individual who is formally not connected with this “broker” in any way.

It is unclear who to make claims to. I myself conducted research on the “broker’s” website. At the bottom of the page there is a small note that all rights belong to, for example, Broker-poker Inc. The company is registered in the Marshall Islands, has a brokerage license, but has a different website, in English.

That is, D. ended up on a phishing site, a clone site. The site's domain is registered in Romania, but the registrar does not provide information without a police or court request. But the police don’t see the crime.”

Fraudsters take advantage of the inexperience of people who are not knowledgeable in financial matters or are unsocialized and lonely.

“In principle, I would not recommend any person (especially an inexperienced one) to make financial investments or get involved in any transactions without consulting anyone. The most attractive cheese is found in a mousetrap,” notes Maria Sisneva.
“In August 2021 alone, the Central Bank added 20 new organizations to the list of financial pyramids. This is all for a reason. Fraudsters, seeing the interest of Russians in the stock market and investments, act quickly, open fraudulent offices and attract people there,” says Yulia Kuznetsova, founder of the International Academy of Personal Finance, investment adviser in the Central Bank register, independent financial adviser to the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.

The whole problem is the low level of financial literacy of citizens, the expert believes.