Unpublished | Albanian scammers and the techniques they use to fool you

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This week, Euronews Albania’s documentary series ‘Unpublished’ investigated the methods Albanian scammers use and the steps they take to get to the victim.

The tactics they use to deceive are many, starting from lending money on interest all the way to ghost companies like call centers.

The chiefs of the Directory for Economic Crimes declare that this category of crime is growing at an alarming rate.

“After analyzing criminal acts in the past 13 years, we can see that on average, there are around 550-560 cases of fraud each year. So that is translated to around 23-24% of the total Economic and Financial Crime,”- said the director of Economic and Financial Crime at the DPPSH Lutfi Minxhozi.

Scamming tactics nowadays are highly sophisticated as technology has come in the picture. Ghost companies registered as call centers in recent years have become a channel for scamming heaps of people.

“In recent years, we have seen scamming coming from ghost companies registered as call centers that phone citizens that are clients in a bank and they present themselves as brokers or employees in the stock market. They play with their victims’ money and create fictive accounts while becoming richer through selling and buying stocks with the victims’ money. These criminal acts are difficult to catch as they incorporate fraud with crime,” says the former Chief of the Economic Crime at Local Directory of the Police (DVP), Arjan Hoxha.

Another method used to scam is the foreign exchange market (also known as FX or Forex) which is a global market for the buying and selling of foreign currencies.

“One scamming method in this market is the first-time registration of a possible customer in the Forex systems, where the suggested entry amount is 300 euros, through which the customer is told to profit 500 euros bonus, with one condition that unless you spend this bonus you can’t physically withdraw the money in your account. This is where the scam lies because these are robotic systems, which after don’t let you spend the bonus, they just keep you in the system through fictive numbers,”- said the expert of Public Procurements, Darti Malaj.

According to official data, a big part of Albanian scamming is through taking advantage of the VAT tax scheme. Attorney, Indrit Sefa told Euronews Albania about how these VAT frauds are conducted.

“At the moment, we are representing a client, who is accused for the creation of a fraud scheme with the VAT tax, which is a criminal act with serious consequences, as stated in article 144 A of the Albanian Penal Code. There are a lot of companies that are established in a very immediate way and this is made even easier by the fact that nowadays one can register at QKB (National Business Center) with only 1000 ALL and you can open a company and be able to in a month submit an invoice of up to 2-3 Billion ALL,” said the attorney Indrit Stefa.

In our country, the creation of pyramid schemes is the biggest fraud that led us to the economic and political crisis back in 1997. Pyramid schemes brought about colossal damage for individuals as well as businesses.

The Chief of the Economic and Financial Crimes at DPPSH, Lutfi Minxhozi spoke to Euronews Albania about some of these pyramid scheme firms that have been prosecuted for scamming Albanians.

“At the time, I used to conduct the investigations for these firms, especially for the firms “Populli”, “Xhaferri” and “Driza”. When we arrested the president of the “Populli” foundation, we confiscated a 1-bedroom apartment filled with cash; it took us 4 days to count. This money was returned to 60% of those that had gotten scammed,” said the Chief of Economic and Financial Crimes at DPPSH, Lutfi Minxhozi.

These scammers possess very distinct characteristics in their personalities and psychologists point out several.

“In general, individuals that are pathological liars are very eloquent, they have a highly advanced vocabulary, they are knowledgeable about things in general and they have an ability to convince people, to create an impact on others and they are very expressive in the way they say things, they use a lot of gesticulation,” emphasized psychologist, Lenida Halilaj.

These characteristics were also present in one of the biggest Albanian scammers, Keidi Kote, who was sentenced back in 2000 for the criminal act of fraud. Kote is considered by Albanian investigators as a super-scammer. He was accused and sentenced for the theft, through scamming tactics, of 250 million ALL from the bank deposit of an Albanian businessman, in a second-tier bank.

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