Thursday, 11 January 2018

Polish authorities tighten their grip on scammers

A recent article published 20th December 2017 on Gazeta Prawna let's us know that Polish authorities want to tighten their grip on scammers. As the article puts it: 
"The UOKiK's message is unambiguous: the permission to cheat hundreds of thousands of Poles has ended. Officials warn and want to convict cheaters."
– UOKiK is the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection in Poland.

The decision of UOKiK might have based at least partly, if not largely, on case Recyclix. Recyclix was based in Poland and apparently had also many Polish victims.

What comes to pyramid scams in general, Polish officials apparently have had quite loose attitude towards pyramid scams before.


Gazeta Prawna:  
"Almost all experts say clearly: the reaction of the state authorities is late. But better now than not at all. For although the last two years have been the resurgence of pyramidal structures resembling Amber Gold, the state organs are still operating slowly."

In fact international scams are quite free to operate throughout the Europe, so this is not a problem that only Poland is struggling with. The internet makes it very easy for pyramid scams to spread and operate without respecting any laws. 

For instance, the Finnish NBI was supposed to evaluate the legitimacy of OneCoin by the end of 2016 when the coin was meant to go public. That of course never happened, because the coin never went public. So OneCoin got off the hook just because the NBI didn't attach the hook with a knot to the line. (Later there was a separate criminal investigation launched by the Finnish Police, but it might still take some time to get some information about the case in public.)



UOKiK warns about ongoing scams


The article by Gazeta Prawna mentions two ongoing scams that UOKiK wants to warn consumers about, DasCoin and Lyoness. DasCoin is referred as a cryptocurrency that does not exist. Lyoness on the other hand is described having pyramid scam features. 

OneCoin was not mentioned in the article, but then again UOKiK had already published a warning about OneLife (OneCoin) in September 2017. OneCoin has been crumbling since the late 2016, so the scam growth in Poland probably has been in a stagnant state for quite some time.



The case Recyclix


After UOKiK had investigated Recyclix and found it to be a scam, the president of UOKiK obliged Recyclix to give investors all the money back they had invested.

However, a Polish attorney Dominik Jędrzejko interviewed in the article says:
"It is good that the decision has been issued, but it is rather symbolic. There is no doubt that the company will not refund money to consumers, if it got into financial trouble much earlier."
From what I have studied the aftermath of Recyclix, it seems likely the attorney is sadly right. On the contrary, it seemed that scammers were even trying to milk more money from their victims. This is copied from a Facebook group titled "Recyclix Support":

... 
But since the company is not running, there is no payment source for us for our hard work and for this reason, we charge users with fees before we validate their refund request 
# We can't deduce those fees because all your investments and profit are by the owners of the financial accoutns and for them, deducing any amount from the total refund is considered as an illegal activity 
# We have no guarantee that users who will receive their refund are going to pay us the required fees later. This is why we charge them with fees before we validate their refund request 
# Our activities are legal and everything is explained in the T&Cs that was signed by the juridical courte of Poland 
...  

– By the sound of that I bet it was a Nigerian Prince sorting things out there. 

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