The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) warns that scammers are increasingly posing as FMA employees and contacting potential victims, and are attempting to obtain money from them in among other ways by using forged logos, lettering and FMA e-mail addresses. The first contact approach is always unsolicited, with forged FMA e-mail addresses, apparently FMA telephone numbers as well as forged letters from the FMA being used. In isolated cases, forged FMA administrative decisions have even been attached. The FMA logo, FMA lettering as well as FMA headers are simply copied into electronic letters or e-mails, the signatures of real FMA employees forged, or copied from original FMA correspondence. Individual letters also include copies or the FMA blip logo, or apparent albeit freely invented FMA blip logos are used.
In recent weeks the following names of apparent FMA employees, apparent FMA e-mail addresses and telephone numbers have been used with fraudulent intention: Frank Frashford, [email protected], +43 670 308 1833; Tobias Berger, [email protected], +49 163 333 71 26; Dr. Dietmar Schulz/Dietmar Schuster, [email protected].
In one case, an apparent employee of the FMA informed a victim that the FMA has been forced to freeze a high value transfer from an Australian bank to the victim due to applicable provisions for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. The victim was requested to contact the institution via the provided contact details to clear up how to proceed, so that the FMA could release the payment. The scammers then demand, either posing as the FMA or as the bank concerned, to transfer an advance fee, so that the money can be released and may then be transferred. While a website does exist for the bank, the bank itself does not exist in reality.
Alternatively: apparent employees of the FMA inform the victim that a specific investment that they have apparently made is a scam. The apparent FMA will be able to get the victim’s invested money back for them if they pay a fee. Sometimes the victims are also instructed to provide detailed account information as well as their PIN or TAN.
Furthermore, the victims are sometimes also intimidated into complying, by being informed that the original transaction is punishable under penal law. Otherwise they are informed that failure to supply certain information or documents is punishable under penal law. They are also pressurised to pay the “fee” quickly, as otherwise penal proceedings will be required to be initiated without delay. Time and again, threats are made that the forwarding of any messages from the apparent “FMA” is also punishable.
Tips for Consumers, Investors and Private Persons
The FMA reminds private persons, investors and consumers:
- Be particularly critical, when apparent FMA employees make unsolicited contact.
- Compare the the stated contact details with the details on the FMA website (www.fma.gv.at).
- Do not be afraid to contact the FMA’s consumer information hotline by telephone on (+43-1) 249 59-3444 or to visit our website (www.fma.gv.at) to check whether contact being established is to be treated seriously and about how your ought to proceed further.
- The FMA will never request private persons to disclose their account details, PIN or TAN details. You should never disclose them to unknown third parties.
- The FMA never instructs the payment of charges or fees over the telephone or by e-mail. It is also unable to freeze or release individual transactions; no legal basis to permit this exists.
- The FMA publishes warnings about dubious providers, presents currently popular scam methods, and also provides tips about how it is possible to protect oneself against scammers.
Journalists may address further enquiries to:
Klaus Grubelnik (FMA Media Spokesperson)
+43/(0)676 88 249 516