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FMA: increasing number of dubious providers are active in the Austrian financial market. Warning about celebrity endorsement fraud.

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The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) reported a significant increase in the number of apparent financial service providers active in the Austrian financial market on an unauthorised basis. While the FMA published 84 investor warnings in 2022, it published 106 such warnings in the year just ended – a 26.2% increase. The biggest proportion of such providers offered services over the Internet from abroad, thereby being beyond reach for other supervisory actions, or indications existed that pointed to a fraudulent activity. The vast majority of such providers were present as web-based trading platforms used to offer various types of financial instruments. In such cases, manipulated software is often used to convince users that a trade and as well as an investment had taken place, with payments made being embezzled and the apparent profits never paid out.

Celebrity endorsement fraud

Many of these dubious or even fraudulent providers advertise on their platform or using linked social media posts with apparent recommendations or insider tips from various celebrities, who have managed to make a lot of money quickly and simply. In recent months, using text and picture-based posts, claims have been made frequently that celebrities including Armin Wolf, Armin Assinger, DJ Ötzi, Alexander van der Bellen, Mirjam Weichselbraun, Christoph Grissemann or Barbara Karlich have apparently invested with a certain financial services provider or using a certain trading platform and had used a certain piece of trading software, and have managed to earn a lot of money in the process. There is actually no such cooperation, and the celebrities in question have never invested with these financial services providers. The image of public personalities are used as bait by financial fraudsters without their approval. Made-up social media articles falsely report about the celebrities’ appearances or interviews on well-known TV shows (e.g. the Millionenshow, Willkommen Österreich, Im Zentrum, 2 Minuten 2 Millionen) or in Austrian media (e.g. ORF, Krone, OE24, Kurier) where they apparently recommended these financial service providers or reported about their own successful investments.

If investors show their interest in investing in such a dubious provider and register on this platform, they are often recommended to make a small “test investment” (generally € 250) promising low-risk and handsome profits. Forged securities account statements then show the profit as being in line with the promised return, and investors are then urged to invest more via another “insider tip”. In isolated instances, initially some apparent small amounts of profit are paid out. The aim is to lure in customers to make increasingly large investments and to pay in more. As soon as the customer declines to make further payments or requests the apparently high profits to be paid out, then the platform operators abruptly break off contact. Defrauded investors then wait in vain for the profits they have apparently achieved (often five- to six-figure amounts) to be paid out. Claims for compensation as a rule are unable to be enforced, as the trading platforms are fakes and/or their operators are unable to be prosecuted.

How to recognise dubious providers

Anyone planning to make an investment with a provider that they do not know should first check with the FMA (for example using the Company Database on the FMA website) whether the provider is actually authorised to provide such a financial service. In addition, it is adviced to carry out Internet research to check whether an investor warning has already been published about the provider in question, either by the FMA, its sister authorities, or specialist online consumer protection sites (like “Watchlist Internet”).  As a basic rule: If something sounds too good to be true, then it generally isn’t true!

Further information about trading platforms and how to recognise dubious providers can be found on the FMA’s web page: Trading on Platforms – Let’s talk about money (; and information about current scams and tricks used by fraudsters can be found at The latest tricks being used by financial fraudsters.

Journalists may address further enquiries to:

Klaus Grubelnik
+43 (0)1 249 59 – 6006
+43 (0)676 – 88 249 516

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