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Growing Internet Frauds in Kazakhstan: How to Keep You and Your Money Safe?

In 2020, the number of internet frauds in Kazakhstan increased by 70.6 per cent, according to the legal statistics and special records committee of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

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In 11 months of 2019, there were 7 thousand such cases reported, and in the same period of 2021 – 12 thousand. Let’s see how to keep you and your savings safe and to avoid fraudsters. 

What is an internet fraud?

This is a type of a fraud with the use of the internet. It can include information hiding or provision of wrong information in order to squeeze money and property from victims. By means of a mobile phone, smartphone, PC or a tablet, fraudsters easily gain victims’ trust and offer various services and opportunities to them, get money of citizens by fraud, and practise extortion.

How do fraudsters act?
  • They either hack or copy pages on social media and distribute requests for financial help on behalf of relatives or acquaintances.
  • They act as bank security department officers, call customers and tell about suspicious transactions on accounts or system failures. Then they suggest transferring money to a fake account, where they withdraw the money from.
  • They offer assistance in writing off your bank loans and microloans for a small fee.
  • They take out online loans for big amounts on behalf of third parties by using their documents and bank cards. Having a photo of an ID card and the victim’s card details is enough for them.

For example, in September 2020, a 60-year-old Kazakhstani woman appealed to police because an unknown criminal tricked out of her money in the amount of 400 thousand tenge (955 dollars). He called her on the phone and said he was a police officer. He said that the woman’s grandson allegedly got into a mess and named the “price” to handle the situation. The frightened woman followed the instructions of the fraudster and transferred the money to the accounts he specified. 

Moreover, in autumn 2020, an unknown woman gained her acquaintance’s trust and asked for her 20-digit number of the bank card and a copy of an ID card under the pretence of an urgent money remittance. After she received the documents, the swindler took out loans in the total amount of 130,000 tenge (310 dollars). Later on, she took out another loan for 75,000 tenge (179 dollars) for another woman.

How to keep safe from internet fraudsters?

Prosecutors warn the citizens:

  1. Never pay in advance, you may lose your money.
  2. Give your money only if you have checked the commodity and it satisfies you.
  3. When entering the websites of known banks, organisations or trading platforms, look into the page on your screen carefully (usually, variations from the authentic website are minor, the website may seem a clone to you).
  4. Never tell your bank card details to strangers under no circumstances or pretext.

Financial experts call the citizens for vigilance. The website for financial literacy improvement created by the Kazakhstan Agency for Regulation and Development of Financial Market reminds that bank managers never call the customer first. Therefore, if you got a call asking you to tell a code from a short message to block unknown transactions on your account, stop the call and contact the bank.

Safety rules

By providing your personal details to unknown persons, including TIN, E-signature, CVV code on the back of the card, you put all your money on the card or account at risk of withdrawal. Also, questionable deals, false loans could be executed, or a vehicle could be reregistered.

Do not publish photos of an ID on social media and never send them to third parties via messengers (WhatsApp, Telegram and others)

Do not follow doubtful links received via e-mail and short messages. You’d better delete them immediately and block the sender. You should pay attention to the website domain name. The address must begin with https://, not http://.

Do not take part in dubious internet contests and lotteries that demand your personal information.

If you are going to buy something online, make sure that the website belongs to the online shop and have a separate bank card intended for online shopping only.

Turn on SMS or Push notifications on your payment cards to see all transactions.

Never turn off the 3D-secure function on your payment card.

Every time you consider investing your money, you must be on the alert and not lose your mind when you see the promise of high yield. If you see the significant but unfounded profit, it is rather a typical pyramid scheme – when first investors get compensation at the expense of subsequent investors, according to Fingramota.

See also: Pyramid Scheme, or How Did Kazakhstani Tricksters Manage to Defraud $80 Million From Country’s Citizens?

What is done to fight against pyramid schemes?

According to the investigation department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 217 criminal cases against pyramid scheme organisers were investigated in 2020. Among them, 116 cases were taken to court. 79 suspects were held liable.

According to the Financial Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 35 facts of pyramid schemes were identified in the country in 2020.

Therefore, the state authorities created an interagency task force involving representatives of some ministries, financial monitoring committee and the Agency for Financial Market Regulation and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The interagency task force studies the global experience and best practices to fight against pyramid schemes, in particular, and financial fraud, in general. By results of the survey, amendments to the current law are being proposed and effective measures of countering pyramid schemes are being developed. In particular, now the organisation of pyramid schemes and advertising of illegal organisations may be punished severely.

How will Kazakhstan fight against internet fraud?

The head of the agency, Yerlan Turgumbaev, said at the annual board of the Ministry of Interior Affairs at the end of January 2021 that the country developed a special programme to counter such crimes because of the double growth of internet fraud.

The minister ordered to create a group to counter internet fraud within the Centre to Fight Cybercrimes and special operational-investigations groups in every region to be staffed with qualified IT experts. 

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