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Dangerous investments: Hanne cheated out of DKK 500,000

“I can’t believe how skilled they were – or that I allowed myself to be cheated!”

The equity released from 74-year-old Hanne’s home was supposed to pay for the little extras to sweeten her retirement and help poor women in Tunisia. Instead, the money ended up in the hands of expert fraudsters who enticed her with a quick, sizeable and sure profit from bitcoin.

An advertisement on Facebook a few months ago was what lured Hanne into the arms of what she believed were skilled and very understanding bitcoin investors.

“A couple of clicks on an ad and I suddenly had the nicest personal advisor on the phone, Laura, who was keen to hear about the project I wanted to support with some of the profits from my investments. She gained my trust with her empathetic, chummy and pleasant tone. During one of our conversations I had some problems with my computer and she offered to help me key in my details if I could just grant her access – and it all went smoothly… I had soon set up an account with a well-known German bank and transferred the first sum of money,” explains Hanne.

Danske Bank’s Fraud department actually stopped the initial money transfer and called to warn me this could be a fraudulent investment. But I simply would not accept the Bank wanting to get involved, this was not their decision.

Hanne

 

Paid no heed to Bank’s warnings 
Hanne had recently sold her large house and bought a smaller vacation home she planned to retire to. Hanne lives part of the year in Tunisia, where she has family, and where she had planned to donate a portion of her savings to helping unmarried women achieve a measure of independence by assisting them in starting up small businesses, etc. Hanne’s savings at that point amounted to just under DKK 500,000.

“Danske Bank’s Fraud department actually stopped the initial money transfer and called to warn me this could be a fraudulent investment. But I simply would not accept the Bank wanting to get involved, this was not their decision – and I told them so. I truly believed the fraudsters were telling the truth,” she says.

I can’t believe how skilled they were – or that I allowed myself to be cheated!

Hanne

 

“She was alarmingly good at winning my trust …”
As a social educator, Hanne feels she is generally a good judge of people – and not someone who can easily have the wool pulled over their eyes. Yet, the professionalism of the fraudsters, the drudgery of corona restrictions and the prospect of paying negative interest on her savings led her astray.

“I just cannot believe how skilled Laura was – or how stupid I was! She was alarmingly good at winning my trust and asked enthusiastically about what I would spend the money on. She caused me to slowly but surely drop my guard because she was so friendly. And once I had bought into the idea of investing then one thing naturally led to another,” explains Hanne.

It was only when the money had to be moved from the German bank account to a bitcoin trading platform, Luno, that Hanne had an inkling she was beginning to lose control of her money a little – as the cryptocurrency was then automatically transferred to an account held by her contact, Laura, who worked for the company OPTFX, via which Hanne could follow her investments online.

The money flowed in … but then so did the problems! 
In the following weeks Hanne transferred an additional four or five sums of money and eventually had placed all her savings in Laura’s hands.

“My money doubled in the first two weeks, and I had always planned to withdraw the amount I invested when that happened – as that way I was guaranteed not to lose anything. But the moment I asked for my money back everything became very difficult.”

Suddenly there had to be EUR 20,000 lodged in the account the money was transferred to. Laura attempted to persuade Hanne to take out a loan for the amount from another bank. During the conversation Laura got access to Hanne’s computer and saw that Hanne had an unused overdraft facility of DKK 100,000.

“I told her she was not to touch that, but before I knew what was happening she had transferred the money. And then when I refused to take out a loan in another bank, all communication was cut,” explains Hanne.


If I ever want to invest again, I will let the bank guide me.

Hanne

 

Need for more help from the police 
Hanne lost all contact with Laura, who had seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Hanne called Danske Bank and acknowledged that this was probably fraud after all. However, if money is transferred voluntarily, there is nothing the bank can do – and Hanne’s only hope was to report it to the police in Denmark.

“The police asked me to send a great deal of documentation via the internet – which was far too complicated for me. They then asked me to visit my local police station – but they didn’t know what to do either. I need more hands-on help from the police so, to be honest, I don’t think I will get my money back,” says Hanne.

“I feel so stupid …”
In the meantime, she has seen companies on the internet who claim they can help victims recover their money from fraudsters, though this help has to be paid for. She has later found out that it is the fraudsters themselves who also run these companies – so this is yet another way to con more money out of people who have previously fallen for a scam. Hanne has not signed up to any of these companies, but she is extremely annoyed that she fell into the scammers’ trap in the first place: 

“Normally, I am not easily fooled – but right now I feel as dumb as a doornail. I have about DKK 10,000 left in my pocket and have to figure out how to get through this month. I will survive of course – but not much more than that. I can look at myself fairly objectively, and this has really taught me something about my own stubbornness and the fact that I don’t listen. I am deeply annoyed, but I’m not going to let my frustration get to me. And if I ever want to invest again, I will let the bank guide me”, notes Hanne.

NB: Hanne is an alias, but her real identity is known to Danske Bank.

Three warning signs

  • Someone wants you to invest without you receiving impartial financial advice.
  • Offers that promise a secure investment, guaranteed return or large profits.
  • Take additional care if you have been scammed once – fraudsters may view you as a potential future target or attempt to sell your contact information to other criminal networks.