Stop Online Investment Fraud & Help its Victims

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  Stop Online Investment Fraud and Help its Victims

From Norway to Australia, from the US to Nigeria, from Switzerland to Bangladesh, from Lebanon to Bulgaria, from Italy to Dubai, from Germany to Israel, from Hong Kong to Curaçao, from Singapore to Finland, from Thailand to the UK …, people from all over the globe have come together, after falling victim to internet-based investment fraud. Thousands of people are victim every year and their number is growing daily as this type of crime is spreading like wild fire and nothing is being done to contain it. Many have lost a full year’s worth of income, others have lost most of their life savings. Losses to such crimes have amounted to tens of billions of dollars yearly. 

Even more shocking, victims are finding themselves totally on their own as the authorities that are supposed to protect them do absolutely nothing to help. Not only is there a lack in basic infrastructure to fight this type of crime, but also no effort is done to work on the cases or plan to implement an efficient fraud-fighting structure. Additionally, victims are appalled to see how easy it is for fraudsters to open accounts in reputable banks and simply vanish with their savings. It is evident that the neglect of the banks and police authorities, as well as the weakness of international laws are the main drivers that have been promoting this type of crime. International fraud crimes, with the help of the internet, are easily perpetrated and with low risk to the fraudsters. Even when identified, the criminals are not pursued as they should be, but are allowed to indulge and do as they please with the life savings of honest people.

Today, more than ever before, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to such crimes as scammers can easily enter the safety of our homes, through the open window of the world wide web and tempt their luck with the billions of people available to them worldwide. If action is not taken, fraudsters will be allowed to take indefinitely a free ride unhindered.

We urge all authorities and institutions around the world to act! 

Too little is being done to prevent such crimes, and for this reason we are demanding a straightforward action plan as follows:

1. First, Raising Public Awareness:

- CAMPAIGNS SHOULD REACH OUT TO THE PEOPLE RATHER THAN WAIT FOR THE PEOPLE TO FIND THEM. Most victims tend to find that warnings exist only AFTER becoming victim, not before. This needs to change!

- The public should also be informed that they must VERIFY THAT ONLINE INVESTMENTS ARE REGULATED BY LOCAL FINANCIAL AUTHORITIES before investing with them. 

- They should be warned of the dangers of highly skilled, manipulative, and educated brokers, as well as extremely professional-looking investment sites and presentations.

Awareness campaigns should be conducted as follows:

a. BANKS must send regular warnings to their clients, on a quarterly basis, with SMS messages, emails and letters.
b. The MEDIA: More awareness campaigns ought to be launched on television, in the news, in newspapers, and other media.
c. FACEBOOK & GOOGLE SEARCHES: Warnings and messages must regularly appear on Facebook and during Google searches for specific keywords words such as: Financial, Trade(s/r/rs/ing), Market(s), Investment(s/ing), Real Estate, Retirement, Savings, Forex, Bitcoin, Profit, Money, Gain, Prices, Bonds, etc.
d. Regulated INVESTMENT SITES: all regulated investment and trading sites should be required to display warning messages to raise awareness about scam sites and inform potential investors of the risk and how to check for registration.
e. FINANCIAL AUTHORITIES inform people to deal only with regulated sites and companies and facilitate the verification of the regulation status by creating a worldwide network with a user-friendly website. They must also be actively involved in raising awareness of the dangers and methods of fraudsters.

2. Accountability: Banks and domain name providers should be held accountable!

- BANKS: Should carry greater responsibilities and be required to follow stricter protocols for the opening of new accounts. More in-depth and thorough background checks of all new clients should be imposed on them. Credentials should be automatically verified from the sources that issue them rather than from sole reliance on the person or company opening an account. Utility bills should be received directly from the service providers, company registrations from the authorities that registered them, passport info from the government or embassy if a person is in a foreign country, and so on.

Banks should only accept payments made by customers when complete beneficiary details are provided and confirmed by the receiving bank. When informed of potential fraud, banks should be required to immediately cooperate with the victims by freezing the accounts held by suspected fraudsters, blocking further payments from customers to such fraudulent accounts and investigating fraud cases thoroughly. Additionally, regulations should make the banks more accountable and impose on them sanctions to cover part of the losses suffered by fraud victims, especially in cases of negligence or lack of cooperation with victims.

Card services companies should be held responsible for the removal of their endorsements from fraudulent internet sites, even where these are not authorised by the card services company.

- DOMAIN NAME PROVIDERS: They should be required to follow stricter rules in verifying the identity of entities that register their domains with them. Further, they should be required to immediately cooperate with victims by verifying that investment platforms are regulated and lift identity secrecy in the case of fraud, thus allowing for transparency in checking backgrounds of domain registrants.

3. The POLICE: Should be equipped with highly trained units specialized in fighting cyber-based crime. They also should be linked to an international network of police and financial authorities that can quickly gather information from diverse sources worldwide, trace fraudsters fast by tracking the movement of bank transfers, domain names and email owners, phone numbers, etc.. They should have the capacity to immediately take down fraudulent sites or advertisements from their source and pass the information to domain name providers to enforce their action. International law enforcement reporting systems should be more easily accessible to fraud victims where they could efficiently deliver information and file a case. Measures should be implemented internationally to promote and facilitate easier cooperation between law enforcement agencies world-wide to fight cyber-based crime.

4. LAWS: International agreements on laws of cooperation among the nations to facilitate and speed-up the pursuit of cyber-based fraudsters beyond national borders. Laws should also be implemented to enforce the application of judgements and the recuperation of investments from any place the fraudsters and stolen funds might be located.

Impose an international ban on unregulated, unauthorized investment sites.

5. PUNISHMENT: Severe punishment, for small offenders to serve as an example.

6. Last but not least COMPENSATIONS! All nations that are known to have profited from online investment scams through the involvement of its citizens or institutions should be held accountable and be required to cover some of the losses suffered by fraud victims.