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Crime

I want more - The Internet’s Billion Dollar fraud

November 22, 2023

Interest-based investment portals on the Internet are one of the biggest scams of our time. People sign up, hoping to invest. Instead, they are cheated out of billions. In Germany alone, thousands of victims have fallen victim to their own gullibility.

https://p.dw.com/p/4ZJVA

Filmmakers Niklas Resch and Caroline Uhl meet with victims and investigators, then track down some of the perpetrators behind the scams. They discover that trying to put a stop to this kind of fraud is like tilting at windmills. Moreover: Victims and perpetrators may have more in common than they think. Ulrike Schneider was cheated out of a lot of money. Ironically, she lost over 10,000 euros because she tried to do a good job investing her savings. She invested money with an online financial portal called TradeInvest90 because it promised good profits in a short time. What Schneider did not suspect: The portal was run by an international gang of fraudsters. In the film, we also meet Adrian. In his late 20s, he was living in Kosovo with hardly any money. So when he received an offer for a well-paid call center job, he jumped at it. But he quickly realized that his job was illegal. His job was to pretend to be a financial market expert for portals such as TradeInvest90 - and thus to take money from German-speaking investors such as Ulrike Schneider over the phone. Adrian and his colleagues bilked their victims out of millions - and earned enormous sums themselves. The head of this gang of fraudsters has become a multi-millionaire. He shamelessly squanders the savings of his victims. The fraud continued for several years until investigators from the State Criminal Police Office in Saarbrücken put a stop to the gang - following a complex investigation. But others continue to steal vast sums of money using the same scam to this day. The filmmakers have succeeded in providing a deep insight into the innermost workings of a highly organized gang of fraudsters. For the first time, the film shows original material from inside the call center. The documentary contrasts the views and motives of victims, perpetrators and investigators - and shows the psychological mechanisms at work in both the deceived and the deceivers.

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