The time of the epidemic – new chances for the criminals
Author: Jaroslaw Kruk - Attorney at law
In many publications it is often repeated that the size and the frequency of the frauds will grow during the epidemic and afterwards. My colleagues write about it as well as the majority of lawyers involved in frauds and regaining of the lost property.
When we all were in quarantine, the popularity of simple internet frauds, websites with false data offering the purchase of the masks and gloves was growing. More advanced frauds concerned the supply of the respirators and other devices the saves lives of COVID-19 patients, where finally the quantity, the quality and the specification of the supplied devices didn’t match.
In this case the frauds will reach tens or even hundreds of millions PLN, EURO or USD. For sure many individuals became the victims of such frauds in the whole world and in the nearest time we will be the witnesses of many interesting proceedings and the specialists of asset recovery will have a lot of work. Despite the promises of the polish authorities that everything is ok. The effect and the success of these activities will for sure depend on the moment of its starting point, the later it is the weaker will be the effect or there will be no at all.
This kinds of frauds will be appearing as the pandemic slows down. Many of us will continue to work remotely and as we got used to it somehow our awareness will be weaker. We will pay less attention on different suspicious e-mails, and the criminals will learn how to break into the modern systems of remote communication.
Of course it would be a truism to say that the human is the weakest element of the security system.
This weakest element must be “pushed” by something. In Poland zero or negative interest rates will be this thing. In Europe people got used to that and it is something new for us. In a short time I expect a huge number of offers that guarantee the permanent interest and the investment certainty. For now no more than 5-6 % are required. There will be no repeat of the Amber Gold swindle, nobody will offer 14-16%.
The pandemic makes it more difficult and discourage us to travel abroad but fortunately we have, and although it is cold and not very clean, we love our Polish sea. It is enough to wait and see the frauds will start to encourage us to invest in apartments at the seaside. And I think that it will also concern other European countries with access to salt water, especially Germany. Unfortunately the majority of the investments will be started but it is not sure that they will be finished. Investments in commercial apartments are not protected by the law just like these for housing purposes.
There will be many scams using the bankruptcy and restructuring procedure - apparent bankruptcies and restructuring. They were in the past as well, but now because of the general tendency, facilitation of the restructuring procedure, there will be more of them.
Apart from these all kinds of investments in vaccinations and miracle medicines for different kinds of viruses etc. will be very popularised. Here the promises of the earnings will not be at the level of 4-5 % but 100 at least. The earning opportunities are bigger as the risk is bigger.
The criminals will use all kinds of legal forms in order to gain stolen assets. In addition to the accounts of newly established companies in Poland, companies and accounts in Estonia will become more and more popular. As usual, regulators and law enforcement agencies will be behind, but not necessarily a lot of new tools have appeared to track financial flows and obtain freezing of accounts or actions in civil or criminal proceedings. Always, the best – although the most difficult at glance – cure for the fraud attempts is the common sense and the moment of reflection.
As usually, it’s all about the psychology in this game. Even I, despite I helped to solve thousands of cases regarding the economic criminality and I used to think that I know almost everything about the frauds and that there is nothing that can surprise me – I was “frauded”.
Someone has proposed membership in a prestigious legal association. We agreed to call, the interlocutor had an excellent Oxford accent, knew the problems of the industry and was oriented in the Polish specificity of Polish jurisdiction. The return telephone number from this organization's website also did well, it did not raise any doubts. And finally it turned out that we fell victim to a perfectly prepared phishing. The only consolation was that the membership fee was relatively small. It was a very good, or even perfect lesson of humility. Of course, we filed both a complaint to the bank and a notification of the crime, and we also launched a local lawyer, and what the effects will be - we shall see. So once again - common sense above all.