The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) warns consumers that there are currently an increasing number of fraudsters impersonating FMA staff members, and who are often also using forged FMA letters in order to obtain personal details as well as bank account details or even direct payments from consumers and investors. In such cases, the initial contact is always unsolicited, with forged FMA e-mail addresses, telephone numbers apparently originating from the FMA 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 fraudsters have in particular used the following names of apparent FMA employees, apparent FMA e-mail addresses and telephone numbers with fraudulent intent: Anika Stolz ([email protected]), Benedikt Schwarz (+43 1 249590 +43 720 884622, e-mail: [email protected]) as well as Axel Steiner, Hannah Egger, David Spielmann, Sascha Lehmann, Juliana Schwarz, Barry Norman, Denis Miller, Manuela Starke and Andreas Zimmermann (+44 7897 041865).
Consumers, investors and private persons can take the following steps to protect themselves:
- Be particularly critical where apparent FMA staff members contact you in an unsolicited manner by telephone, e-mail or social media. Compare the the stated contact details with the details on the FMA website. Genuine FMA e-mail addresses only end in … “@fma.gv.at”, (www.fma.gv.at).
- Don’t be afraid, even when you only have the faintest suspicion, to contact the FMA’s consumer information hotline by phone (+43-1) 249 59-3444 or to contact the FMA through the contact form on the FMA website using the “General Consumer Request” contact form on the FMA website at: Verbraucheranfrage – Verbraucheranfragen und Beschwerden (fma.gv.at), to check whether the initiation of contact is genuine as well as about how your ought to proceed further.
- The FMA will never request private persons to disclose their account details, PIN or TAN details. Nor should you ever disclose them to 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 continuously publishes warnings about dubious providers on its website, and also provides easy access to all investor warnings published to date, presents currently popular scam methods, and also provides tips about how it is possible to protect oneself against scammers.
Current examples of audacious scamming methods
A fraudster claimed to be an employee of the FMA, and informed their victim that a cryptocurrency wallet (Bitcoin wallet) registered in their name had been discovered on a blocked illegal platform. The victim was made to believe that they had fallen for a cyber fraud and was asked to cooperate. For this purpose, it was necessary to provide the identity and the IBAN of the account used. This data would then be passed on to the European Cybercrime Centre. If the fraud victim were to choose not to cooperate, all their accounts would be blocked.
Or: Alternatively: the alleged FMA employee informs the victim that a specific investment that they have apparently made is fraudulent. It is then claimed that the alleged authority can recover the invested money back for the victim – for which a fee must be paid. Sometimes the victim is also asked to provide detailed account data as well as PIN or TAN, which the fraudsters then use to empty the account.
In addition, victims are sometimes intimidated by being told that an original transaction is punishable by 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 or passing on of information to any other address that thoses stated is also a punishable offence.
Journalists may address further enquiries to:
Klaus Grubelnik (FMA Media Spokesperson)
+43 (0)676 88249516
+43 (0)1 249 59 – 6006