Billion dollar fraud on the Internet | DW Documentary

Billion dollar fraud on the Internet | DW Documentary

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.

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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This is the story of an international scam. The whole thing was so good! From the beginning, what the client saw when they signed up, to the end everything was perfect! I was scammed. The money never went to the account. It was gone, right away. I made a mistake! Step by step,

You build up to the point where people are ready to go all in. Even hand over their entire capital. around 800 million in damages nationwide. Add to that the number of unreported cases. You come close to a billion in damages. An ordinary call center? Try: command central, for a billion-dollar scam.

This original footage, shown here for the first time, depicts the scene of a crime and its perpetrators. Young people, who wanted more. These are the pictures they took. In an exclusive interview, we spoke with one of them. We also tracked down the man who allegedly led the criminal gang

That ripped off thousands of Germans. He lived a jet-set life, while others paid the tab. Kosovo is a poor country. The average income is 4,000 euros per year. We’re here to search for clues. And to meet one of the scammers. He explains how he and his fellow call center employees stole millions

From unsuspecting investors and why he has no qualms about it. Here in Kosovo, fathers support their families. But at a certain age, you have to go out and work and bring money home. How you do it is up to you. But there aren’t many options.

You either work as a waiter, earning 300 euros, or you work at a call center and earn a couple thousand. What would you do? Adrian, not his real name is in his late twenties. We meet him in a secret location in Kosovo. He’s wanted by German authorities. But here, he’s safe.

Anyone who sees that kind of money would be curious. Knowing you can earn that Photos of the perpetrators, made available exclusively to us. They paint a vivid picture. One thing these young people seem to have shared: a desire for luxury. A far cry from everyday life in Kosovo.

I didn’t have that luxury at home. After the war, everyone struggled. And everyone did anything they could for their family, no matter what that was. That’s what I did, too. Adrian got a job in the capital, Pristina. He worked here, in this building, for several years.

Now vacant, it used to house a call center. It was the hub of a huge scam. Adrian speaks good German. That was his ticket in. I learned German by watching cartoons as a kid. After the war, there wasn’t much on TV. But we got German channels like Pro7, RTL2, and SuperRTL.

I watched cartoon series for kids, in German. Here, call center agents pretended to be financial experts and promised German-speaking investors big returns on the stock market. Back in Germany, we meet with one of the scams’ victims. We’ve been in contact with Ulrike Schneider not her real name for several years.

She fell for the call center scam. Back then, Schneider wanted to invest her savings. Instead, she lost exactly 10,250 euros. She’s since gotten back on her feet. But it still stings. My great fear was always that I would suffer from poverty in old-age. I was self employed for 20 years,

And didn’t pay into the German pension scheme. I was always thinking: how can I increase my financial buffer, to provide for my old-age? Let’s go back a few years. In 2018, Ulrike Schneider came across an online advertisement. For a financial platform called “TradeInvest90. The hook:

By betting online on whether stock market prices would rise or fall a practice known as “Cybertrading” private investors could win big. The ad showed an example. If you invested 250 euros, you could earn almost 10,000 euros within four weeks. With the help of an algorithm. Ulrike Schneider took the bait.

It never occured to her that the advertisement might be a trap. One that had been designed to lure internet users. Like herself, and thousands of others, from all over Germany. The State Office of Criminal Investigation in Saarland can prove it. This is their command central. From here, the authorities reconstructed the workings

And structures of the criminal call centers. They dug through mountains of files, identified the perpetrators, and documented the victims’ fates. We spoke to one of the investigators. There are two cases I will never forget. The first one is the highest single loss. The man, the owner of a medium-sized company,

Actually lost 5.5 million euros. The money was meant to be put back into the company. A reserve, in case of bad times. The second is an appalling case. A man initially put in 160,000 euros. Then the perpetrators convinced him to give them another 170,000. He couldn’t cope with the loss, psychologically.

He took his own life. The investigators were sure of one thing: what they were dealing with here was organized crime. Fighting back was a dangerous job. We weren‘t allowed to film the investigation team, so we staged a reenactment of their work, instead. The investigators were tracking down the call centers

In Kosovo as well as in the Czech Republic and the man suspected of running the whole operation. But while they were investigating, the fraud machine kept churning. Let’s go back to 2018: Ulrike Schneider signed up with TradeInvest90. She deposited 250 euros. A big mistake… but an understandable one, says criminal psychologist Helga Ihm.

She’s an expert in the dynamics between scammers and their victims. She’s an experienced witness in the courtroom the place where perpetrators and victims often meet for the first time. People feel the need to do something with their money. To try to increase it, perhaps to invest their wealth. There’s nothing bad about that.

It’s something we all think about how can I make a little more out of my modest existence? But this impulse can lead people down a dangerous path. It’s the same desirefor more that also drives perpetrators. I needed a car, better clothes and so on. When you’re a teenager, it’s all you think about.

I also had a new girlfriend at the time. I got involved because I wanted a better life. That was the moment when, Adrian says, he met Betim T., now 34, and Azem S., 30. According to investigators, they were working as the managers of the call center. One of them has since been punished.

Back to Ulrike Schneider. In the beginning, she says, she made small profits. When things suddenly stopped going well, she got a telephone call from a “broker” assigned to her by TradeInvest90. He said, this is a good time to invest more, because then you improve your chances of getting your money back.

So that’s what I did. Schneider invested 10,000 euros. Within a few days, she saw her balance rise to 18,000 euros. I thought, great, this is going quite well. And then it really went up! Of course I was really happy. Then I tried to withdraw some money. At first, the withdrawal was canceled.

They claimed that I had canceled it, which I hadn’t. Then, my account balance went down radically. Just as quickly as it had gone up, it sank. She started to research the company, and soon found others with similar experiences. She realized it was all a fraud a cleverly-constructed lie.

I felt ashamed, of course, because I fell for scammers. It’s something you don’t make a big fuss about. You’ve lost money. But on top of that, you’ve been cheated. Adrian and his colleagues were on the other end of the telephone line, talking to Ulrike Schneider and other victims.

Working for the “Silkline Group,” they pretended to be financial wizzes. Their goal? To get customers to “invest” through TradeInvest90 and other platforms, including Option888, Zoomtrader, Tradovest and XMarkets. With that goal in mind, I would briefly explain the platform: this is where you can make the deposit,

This is where you see your shares, and so on. To get started, they needed the minimum amount, which was 250 euros. Each agent had their own approach: But if you deposit more, you get an additional bonus. Adrian wasn’t Ulrike Schneider’s broker. But what she heard was similar.

He told me that TradInvest90 invests in different funds. So when one isn’t doing so well, the money gets shifted to one that’s performing better. We would say anything to convince the client to make that investment. We would change our stories. I’d say, I’d worked in the stock market,

I’d worked in England, or something else. But everything we said was made up. And 90 percent of the time it worked. Ulrike Schneider’s broker also managed to persuade her, with his stories. He actually came across as very credible. He was very relaxed and very confident. Our conversations were often quite informal. Informal chit-chat

Where every word is dishonest. Bets on stock market prices, funds being shifted: All of it, completely made up. The online platforms were rigged. Profits? A joke. The only people making money were the scammers. I didn’t know that. How could me wanting to withdraw my money cause a problem?

The victims’ money flowed straight to the criminal machine. Meanwhile, the call center agents kept manipulating their marks. First, I wanted to understanfd the customer’s profile: How much did they own? What could I use to get them to invest? What did you say to them?

I made it sound as good as I could from the start. You’re going to make a lot of money. What will you do with it? What car will you buy? A simple psychological trick, says the expert. You have to encourage the target person to start saying yes.

Do you want to own a house one day? Own a car? Do you want to do good business? Are you looking for an advisor? The answer to these questions is yes. Well I have a chance-of-a-lifetime business deal for you. Right here, today, until 12 o’clock.

I’m giving you a shot at making your dreams come true. That’s how I get the ‘yes’ I’m looking for. And this compliance, this willingness, means they’re now ready to invest. The whole thing was so good! From the beginning what the client saw when they signed up to and a the end.

Everything was perfect! Perfect for the scammers the call center agents, cheating unsuspecting investors out of a lot of money. Adrian, for one, had no compunctions. I felt totally normal, like I was working as a waiter. I didn’t worry about the clients. And the mood among your colleagues? was always great.

1,300 kilometers away, in Saarbrücken. Here, the criminal authorities wanted to stop the perpetrators and bring the scam to light. We have a large number of injured parties. Many victims have lost their retirement funds, or borrowed against life-insurance policies. They’ve had to take out loans or take side jobs, shortly before retirement.

The offices of the Saarland State Office of Criminal Investigation. Here, investigators hunted down cybertrading scammers. Assisted by colleagues from Austria and elsewhere in Europe. From Kosovo to Bulgaria and the Czech Republic some 35 raids were carried out in five countries against this one gang. Based on figures from the last two years,

We estimate losses of around 10 million euros across the Saarland region due to the phenomenon of cybertrading fraud. If you look at the bigger picture, that’s around 800 million euros in damages nationwide. Add to that, the number of unreported cases. You come close to a billion in damages.

The scam is still running on countless platforms, where victims continue to lose their money. Stefan Planz and his team began working on this case in 2017. With a handful of victims and 3,000 euros in total losses. But it soon became clear that millions were at stake and a nationwide investigation began.

Piece by piece, the investigators were able to reconstruct the scam. They discovered a complex structure not unlike a large corporation’s behind the scam. It worked like this: First, victims were drawn in using manipulated advertising on the internet. For example: an article about a reality business show

That’s been altered to praise the cybertrading platform. It looks real, but it’s not. Similar fake advertising is still online today. As investigator Stefan Planz knows, once lured onto a platform, many sign up and soon receive a call from one of the fake brokers. They used phone numbers from Frankfurt or Munich,

Germany’s financial centers. But in fact they were calling from Kosovo or the Czech Republic. During that first conversation, the call center agents asked if the person they were calling, the injured party, was solvent. And if they were willing to invest, they started transactions. With the first transaction, the trap has been sprung.

It’s actually the target person who takes the first step. Because they go on the internet and then see, Aha, Zoomtrader sounds good! High profits. That appeals to me, I’m interested. That’s an advantage for the perpetrators, because they don’t have to convince people first.

Hey it’s quite good to look at what you do with your money in this day and age I already come with that decision. Landing on the website by itself is already the result of a manipulation. But of course the target person can’t see that. One of the investigators pretends to be an investor.

I’ve now deposited the 250 euros. What’s the next step? The fake broker wants him to make more deposits. So they step up their game. The investigator has heard enough for now he gets out. But for many, this is just the beginning. It went like this:

Investments were made and the agents let the victims make profits. That of course appealed to them, as they saw the value of their portfolios rising. So they were ready to invest more money. The agents also worked to build up trust: We made small talk. We asked, Are you married? Do you have children?

Then we also made up a story about ourselves. There were often cases where I helped elderly people set up WhatsApp, or their TV. They sent me emails: I need your help! And I responded. What can I say? They believed me, 100%. Before they make contact,

The offenders have to think about things like that. They have to earn their victim’s trust. In order to do that, they have to react to the things they are told in such a way that builds a feeling of kindred spirit. He says, I did so much for those people,

I set up their Whatsapp, helped with this and that. Obviously that goes beyond the scope of the pure cybertrade fraud business. But he did so much that he took on an emotional function for the everyday lives of these people, for their weekly organization. Psychological tricks, as old as the hills.

But the technical sleight-of-hand used on the platforms that was new. The trick was that the software was built in such a way that the real stock market prices could be fed in, but the call center staff could still decide whether the customer made a loss or not.

So the customer making a profit or loss did not depend on the actual trading. The power to decide always rested with the call center agents. The scammers made use of various tactics to keep their victims dependent. We would often ask the customers, for example: Would you like to decide for yourself,

And see whether it goes up or down? And let the client decide. Then we’d say, See? You decided yourself and lost money. We can’t do much about that. But we can help you. Give me one day, and I’ll research what is about to go up or down.

And then we came up with something?say, gold. We promised the clients it had a 99.9 percent chance of working. Adrian also describes the pressure he was under at work and how he dealt with it. Personally I just sat down and looked straight at my computer.

I was only focused on bringing in more money. I would eat in the morning, then have a shot of Jäger and maybe one or two lines. Jägermeister and cocaine? Yes. That was interesting. To keep up with the amount of work? I used to think that maybe that would help me perform better.

But actually it was just to make me feel a bit better or to get over the fear that I would “break” the client. ‘Breaking’ a client meant I failed to get them to make an investment. The use of drugs and other stimulants is not uncommon behavior for perpetrators: It’s exhausting.

You have to seduce the other person. You have to be in a good mood. You have to have great conversation. You have to win the other person over, praise them, listen to things that you wouldn’t necessarily like to. You can’t be in the mood for that everyday,

So if you wake up in the morning and you’re in a bad mood, and you don’t feel like it, of course that will affect the quality of your work. And if you’re afraid of not succeeding because you’re not amoral or criminal enough, coke, drugs and alcohol

Can help you get in the mood for that interaction. Call center agents often pressured victims like Ulrike Schneider into making more deposits. I once requested a withdrawal and then got a nasty message via Skype: You’ve put me in a difficult position. This sort of thing should not happen.

If you request a withdrawal without informing me first, while I’m dealing with your account, it can have disastrous consequences. Let’s make this agreement you transfer the 60,000 euros now. As soon as the money arrives, we meet via Skype and we invest 20% of the capital for the longer term,

So we can make up for the losses. So, you make them feel bad, step up the pressure, persuade them to invest more and make empty promises. That’s how it went. If a client requested a withdrawal without talking to us first, we would attack them. That’s the kind of thing we were waiting for,

Because then the client would feel bad for making a mistake. For example, we’d say: Because you clicked on it, your whole credit is now blocked or frozen. We can’t use it for two months, or a year. So we need you to put in more money. Adrian says the brokers had no guilty conscience,

No scruples towards their victims. Quite the opposite. When you gamble, you know there’s a chance you might lose. And if you’re ready to stake something, to bet in the game, and you lose, I don’t feel sorry for that. You told people, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that if you do this now,

You’ll make a profit. So how can you now say, if you gamble you might lose The stock market goes up and down, you can never predict it. Only an idiot would believe it’s 99.9 percent certain. So people were stupid. I think so. Many lost. In some cases, the consequences were extreme.

Detective Chief Inspector Planz remembers one man who lost over 300,000 euros. He took his own life, and in his suicide note he listed the individual figures. He simply couldn’t cope with it. For the perpetrators, it was different. We would celebrate, when we received large sums of money.

You had to go out and buy nice things for your colleagues sweets, drinks and cigarettes. For the time being, the call center in Kosovo was still up and running. But in Germany, investigators were collecting evidence and preparing for the first raids on the international gang.

We carried out simultaneous searches in four or five countries. The biggest success was in Bulgaria, because we managed to secure a database connected to one of these platforms. Honestly I didn’t think we would be able to find evidence like that. On the flight back, the IT guys were already telling us

We’d struck gold, because the database had so much in it. The investigators found records of the scams. We were actually surprised by the records they kept of the customers’ losses. They said things like, ‘burn the customer like a Chinese dog in a pan’. That was their code language for saying that a customer

Should lose everything, right now. Next, the investigators set their sights on the call center in Kosovo. In the meantime, headquarters had been transferred, from the capital Pristina to the town of Ferizaj, 40 kilometers away. There was a raid there too. For the first time,

The investigators saw the inside of the Kosovo call center. Dozens of workstations spread over two floors. This footage of the raid was made available exclusively to us. We couldn’t have imagined that there would be entire floors dedicated to these call centers. We thought there might be call centers,

With sections or perhaps something like a back room, dedicated to this. But walking into a fully-functionng company, with 40, 50 desks where people made calls to prey on injured parties we couldn’t have imagined anything like it. The offices were empty, when the raid took place. The scammers had been tipped off

And left a message. They knew we were coming and wanted to send us a little greeting. The investigators were still able to secure plenty of evidence. They also searched the office of the two suspected call center managers: Betim T. and Azem S. They managed the call center in Kosovo and had considerable

Influence over other areas, such as advertising campaigns, as well as the platform, software manipulation. And naturally, call center operations and payment flows. They looked after us really well. Nobody was in a bad mood. You couldn’t be in a bad mood, or else you wouldn’t be productive.

At the end of the year we always had a party. It was fantastic. There were gifts for every staff member. Money wasn’t an issue. They even gave us cars, if we’d worked well, brought in a lot of money. You have to motivate your employees. They gave you cars to reward your performance?

Not only cars. They gave you whatever you wanted. So if you said you’d like an apartment, then you’d get an apartment. Money, cars, apartments all on top of the salary. Adrian’s monthly earnings: In my best month I made almost 20 thousand. Then you just forget you’re doing something bad, because,

How can I put it? When you have money you can do a lot, you have people around you, so you don’t really think about whether you’re causing harm to others. Money and status symbols overshadowed any sense of doubt. According to the psychologist, it’s not only victims who are manipulated. So are perpetrators.

The fact that I get a super car as a reward justifies my being here. And with that, I can hide that what I’m doing here is criminal. That’s the point. The same mechanisms you use to convince the victims, I’m a good, reputable investment opportunity for you even though it’s not true, of course

The head of a gang uses on the gang. What we are doing here is good for us, because you get a good car or you get a lot of praise, you can improve your social status. Showing off with other people’s money. The call center managers led the way.

As S. will later explain, he had to drive luxury cars, to show how great his job was. Boss’s orders. The boss was keen on status symbols, himself. Luxury cars, private jet, ready to fly at any time. A bodyguard. Uwe Lenhoff. According to investigators, he was the head of this multi-million fraud group.

Born in Sauerland, he first appeared in public as an online gambling pioneer. Our research shows he had already been sentenced to three years in prison for fraud in 2006. Back then, he’d scammed almost half a million euros. Small potatoes, compared how much money the bogus trading portals brought him.

On the surface, Uwe Lenhoff was a smart businessman who lived the jet set life. I believe he was intelligent as well as assertive. But he also got his way thanks to his victims’ money. He worked around the clock. And he was always thinking about new ways of making a lot of money quickly.

Without a lot of elbow grease. Lenhoff’s private jet. A good spot for reviewing documents. The cybertrading scam was perfectly suited to his talents. He was someone who ran a lot of checks. He looked at the numbers regularly. And if the finances weren’t right, he tried to influence his business partners or accomplices

To put more money back into the system. After all, he needed large sums of money, daily, to finance his luxurious life. According to the investigators, he put pressure on Azem S. and Betim T. The last few days were really crap. Complacency is the first step to job loss.

You should let the team know that. The investigators’ work showed Lenhoff to be behind the five rigged portals. He denied it. But the evidence was overwhelming. Uwe Lenhoff was, I think, and we have proof of this, the head of the gang. He had influence over all areas of this fraud model.

He didn’t shy away from threats of violence. Like when someone missed the “100k” target that is, defrauding people of 100,000 euros. if he doesn’t make the 100k this month, he’s out. And our friends will explain to him what he better not do, once he’s fired. understood. you can tell him that. okay.

A jet-set life financed by thousands of unsuspecting investors. He loved the luxury lifestyle. He made sure that he could flaunt his wealth. He drove expensive vehicles. He didn’t buy them, but rented them long term. For example, a Bentley or Ferrari, he had several at once.

And when he traveled, he stayed in expensive hotels. In the end, we also saw that on his credit card bills, at times 180,000 euros a month were charged for the very exclusive lifestyle he maintained. We were actually ready to arrest Uwe Lenhoff between Christmas and New Year.

The problem was that he was constantly on the move. He never stayed in one place for more than a few days. But we knew that he would definitely come to Neustift again in the middle, end of January. More precisely, to this five-star resort in Austria. Lenhoff was a regular guest, here.

He rented out a flat, and also sometimes stayed in the resort’s master suite. He enjoyed being here. According to accounts, he was not a loud or charismatic person, and never sat at the bar. But when he took a liking to someone, he was generous with them.

That’s what led him into the investigators’ trap in 2019. We actually caught him in his blue Bentley in front of his rented flat. We were able to arrest him there without resistance. He behaved like many fraudsters denying everything. At that point he probably still assumed that his money might help

Him get out of the whole thing. But that was his last day as a free man. Uwe Lenhoff was jailed in Austria. In September 2019, he was extradited to Germany. The call center in Kosovo continued to run for six months after Lenhoff’s arrest. After the raid, it ceased to function.

Call center manager Azem S. was arrested. In 2022, he stood trial in Saarbrücken. It was a mammoth trial, with enough files to fill 866 folders. They had to be transported to the court by truck. The evidence against Azem S. was overwhelming. He confessed, and apologized to the victims.

In my opinion, the least he can do is apologize. Because the question is, will he ever be in a position to repay the damages? Ulrike Schneider’s case is one of more than a hundred that were not prosecuted. Still, how did she feel about the apology?

For him, it was simply a stepping stone to a better economic situation, to luxury, probably, considering the standards there. So I can accept it, because I didn’t lose such a large sum. But if I had lost more money, I would probably have a hard time with it.

In August 2022, Azem S. was sentenced to twelve years in prison on multiple counts of commercial fraud committed as part of a criminal gang. His partner Betim T. was also charged. An international arrest warrant was issued. According to information we have, he still lives in Kosovo

But the country does not extradite its own citizens. There’s currently no trial in sight, for him. We were unable to make contact with him. Most of the people in this photo are probably on the investigators’ list, too. Every time they travel abroad, they face arrest. A manageable risk, it seems:

Of more than 400 call center employees, only one is currently in custody in Saarbrücken. A stroll through Stuttgart. Ulrike Schneider has written off the money she lost to the scammers. But she hasn’t exactly found peace. Her in-box is full of new scams. I keep getting these advertising emails,

Although I have never had anything to do with these companies. They probably still have access to the database from back then, and use my information. They’re telling me I can make the money back again, by making new investments. It’s unclear who these messages are coming from.

It’s also unclear how the senders have gotten their hands on Ulrike Schneider’s information. And she’s not the only one being targeted. There is no way that these ‘knights in shining armour’ will retrieve any money. Because their goal, also, is just to take money. Investigators are largely in the dark,

When it comes to this new set of scams. And, due to the sheer volume of cases, they are struggling to keep up. A new fraud, that’s devastating for the victims. What is affected is this sense of control. That I have my life under control, that I can determine what happens in my life.

Now, it has actually been confirmed that I don’t have anything under control, that, on the contrary, everything was taken away, that I gave everything up voluntarily. So we quickly enter into deep feelings of guilt and shame. Neighbors hear about it, my family hears about it, maybe my wife wants to know:

How could you? Yes, how could I? I don’t understand it myself. This shame and guilt can lead to severe mental disorders. And Uwe Lenhoff? Pictured here on the day of his arrest, he will never be tried. His story ended in jail. After a year and a half in custody, Uwe Lenhoff died

In his prison cell in Saarbrücken. Of an overdose, on July 6th, 2020. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear he left no suicide note. One dead, one on the run, one in custody. Was it worth it? Azem S. refused our request for interview. Adrian, however, has an answer.

He knew that something like that could happen, and was paid in proportion to that risk. There are people who say, I’ll gladly go to jail for ten years if I get so and so many millions. I wouldn’t do that. But I also don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It’s a shame.

It’s sad that it’s still operating, and people are still losing their money. And of course, at the end of the day, I also worry about the perpetrators. What kind of situation they’re in, that they have to accept this work. Adrian has no regrets about working at the call center.

You never know what it would be like if things had been different. But I know I would be much worse off than I am now. Would you do it again? If I were in a position where I needed to do it, I would. I was never forced to do anything.

Investigators estimate that, to date, cyber fraudsters have caused billions of dollars in losses, worldwide. Victims have virtually no chance of getting their money back. It disappears into criminal networks, tax havens and fraudster’s pockets. We cannot control the world the way we would like to. There is always a certain risk factor.

In the end, we simply have to live with risk. Ulrike Schneider and thousands of others wanted more and paid dearly for it.

Video “Billion dollar fraud on the Internet | DW Documentary” was uploaded on 11/24/2023 by DW Documentary Youtube channel.