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Researchers discovered a huge network of 11,000 domains that are being used to promote several fake investment schemes to dupe users within Europe.

These platforms showcase believable pieces of evidence including fake celebrity testimonies to present themselves as a legitimate source and lure in as many users as possible.

The operations are carried out by duping such users by telling them how it’s a huge investment opportunity with chances of high return. They convince the users to invest at least 250 EUR ($255) while signing up for the said services.

Cybersecurity company Group-IB found that these ploys have been plotted across several phishing sites, hosted, and redirected.

Group-IB identified that more than 5000 of these malicious domains are still operational. The targeted countries, for now, are Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Norway.

Scamming process

These investment schemes campaigned on a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook for as many users as possible.


A sample Facebook post promoting the investment scheme

Unsuspecting users fall for these investment schemes by clicking on these ads. Once they click, they’re directed to landing pages containing so-called success stories.

The next step involves requesting contact details from the innocent user. Followed by a “customer agent” reaching out from their call center stating their company’s terms and conditions in a highly elaborate social engineering scam.


Fake investment portal targeting Dutch users

Once the victim deposits 250 EUR or more and as the details are provided, they are stored on the fake site to be used for other campaigns or worse the credentials are sold on the dark web.


Investing more into the scheme for a higher gain

The fraudsters even provide their victims with a fake investment dashboard in order to track their supposedly daily gains. 

It is considered to be a long-term illusion for a legitimate investment so that the victims can continue to invest in hopes of a large profit.

The elaborate is up only when the user tries to make a withdrawal but the platform asks for another investment as a final payment.


According to Group-IB research, this is how a victim’s journey goes during the investment scam

As the Group-IB researchers investigated, they interacted with the scammers first-hand, and the conversation is recorded with the “customer agent.”

Here’s the audio conversation with a few parts censored due to privacy concerns:

Given investment schemes have no guarantee whatsoever, there’s always a risk associated with them. That’s why such sure profit promises should be seen as red flags.

Furthermore, real investment platforms usually don’t offer personal account managers to handle small investments.

If an investment platform seems enticing, we’d suggest you make sure that an established broker handles it. Also, look for reviews shared by other users, however, do keep an eye out for similar ones as the reviews may also be fabricated.

Most of the time, scammers are too busy scamming and so they don’t put much effort, ending up creating variations of the same fake review.