Helsinki police have begun to investigate suspicions of pyramid scams on an international scale.
A company called Wiseling, which appeared as a Finn, operated online in several languages and said that it offered investment services.
Police are investigating the case as aggravated fraud and identity theft.
The Wiseling page has now been deleted.
The company promised to invest its clients ’funds in cryptocurrencies, Fiat money, i.e. traditional foreign exchange trading and industry.
The Financial Supervisory Authority and the Bank of Finland warned of Wiseling's operations on Monday 22 February.
In the opinion of the Financial Supervisory Authority, the company illegally provides investment services in financial instruments without a license issued by the Financial Supervisory Authority.
The company also has no operations at the registered address in Finland, the Financial Supervisory Authority says.
The Bank of Finland, for its part, has stated that it does not have a credit card cooperation agreement with Wiseling.
The investment took place through a partnership program offered by Wiseling, which, according to Petteri Järvinen, an experienced security expert, may have as many as 100,000 investors as investors.
Järvinen has followed Wiseling's story on his blog.
Järvinen says that according to the counter provided by Wiseling, there were more than 76,000 investors at the beginning of February, but Järvinen believes that some may have invested as a group: in this case, the partnership program reads only one name, but there are more investors behind the name.
According to Järvinen, it can be tens or hundreds of millions of euros.
For the time being, Sampsa Marttila, Director of Investigation at the Helsinki Police, is unable to confirm how many victims there are of suspected gross fraud or what amount is being talked about.
Wiseling's executives were Matias Lappo, President and CEO, and Elias Mattila, Vice President.
According to Järvinen, both are pseudonyms, and they are not even Finnish people.
Instead, the traces would seem to lead to Russia, to the St. Petersburg office.
Director of Investigation Marttila also confirms that these are false identities.
It is not known to the police that there is a person named Matias Lappo in Finland.
However, he is unable to confirm that the suspect has ties to Russia.
- According to our current information, both the suspects and the parties involved are foreigners, Marttila says.
In his company information, Wiseling said that he operates from the Regus office hotel in Helsinki's Itäkeskus.
Järvinen visited the site, but according to the receptionist who responded to him, the company operating under that name has never been a customer of an office hotel.
A limited liability company of the same name was also found in the trade register under the name Wiseling, whose board information does not mention Lappo or Mattila.
According to the Financial Supervision Authority, the company has no operations in the place entered in the trade register.
Instead, two Finns have been appointed decision-makers, who, according to an interview with the Society, had been appointed to Wiseling's management without their knowledge.
- I called the National Board of Patents and Registration and learned that my personal identification number and forged signature had been entered on the company's paper incorporation form, another told the Society.
Director of Investigation Marttila confirms that Wiseling's decision-makers have been persons who have nothing to do with the suspected crime.
In this respect, the Helsinki police suspect identity theft, the perpetrators of which are Finns.
According to Järvinen, most of Wiseling's customers are from Pakistan, South Korea, the United States and Iran, but Järvinen has been contacted by people around the world.
The African continent is also highlighted among the participants in the partnership program.
So far, there is no information that there are Finns in the customers, but it cannot be ruled out either.
Wiseling's website had also been translated into Finnish, but according to Järvinen, it can only be a matter of seeking credibility, and it does not necessarily mean that it has been aimed at Finnish investors.
What is it really about, Petteri Järvinen?
- Such investment scams are the darkest in the clouds, but Wiseling is the largest of the recent ones.
As proof of this, Wiseling hosted a spectacular membership event at a luxury hotel in Dubai early in the year.
What makes this interesting for Finns is, of course, the fact that, for the first time, Finns have been forged as company leaders, even though they are not really Finns.
Wiseling’s videos were executed in high quality and sometimes also dubbed into different languages.
Järvinen thinks that the OneCoin case has raised Finland's reputation in the eyes of fraudsters.
More than three million people invested in OneCoin.
Four Finns were also suspected of tax fraud due to OneCoin, but the case did not progress from the preliminary investigation.
About 25,000 Finns invested in OneCoin, a total of about 40 million euros by 2016.
OneCoin has been banned in many countries, and its then director was arrested in the United States in 2019.
Read more: Petteri Järvinen: Up to 50 million Finns were scammed with cryptocurrencies
Read more: The billion-dollar scam seems worse all the time, the victims also in Finland - "Is there any reason to postpone the investigation?"
According to Järvinen, Finland's reliable reputation has been used.
Finland is also a practical choice if you are a Russian scammer.
However, the person behind the pseudonym has tried to strengthen the credibility of Matias Lappo's identity in many ways, Järvinen says.
The man acting as Lapp has shared pictures of “Matias Lapo’s” passport and ID card, and at first glance, everything seems to be fine.
Lappo was born in 1983 in Keuruu.
- However, the identity number of the passport and identity card did not match.
The check mark also did not match in either, but in other respects the counterfeits were really high quality, Järvinen says.
In addition to the passport photo, the person performing in Lappona has invested in a background story, although there are gaps in the story.
According to Wiseling, Lappo would have been born in Helsinki instead of Keuruu and studied for two university degrees: in finance and law.
Fake IDs with Matias Lapo's name.
Järvinen emphasizes that at this stage the alarm bells should ring: Lappo is the name of only a few people in Finland and there will be no profile for Matias Lapo before 2020.
Lappo also emphasized Finnishness in his videos, although he speaks English with them.
The video, which is intended for Christmas greetings, is shot in a Finnish forest landscape, and the Finnish flag is shown on the table in office videos.
- The Christmas video had a snowy landscape and a Finnish coniferous forest.
From there, Matias Lappo came with a log stack and lit the fireplace.
Just like from Finland.
One of the videos was dubbed in Finnish and the Finnish language spoken in the video was flawless, Järvinen says.
This may be an indication that a Finnish person has also been involved.
It is also possible that the speech has been ordered from a Finnish service provider, Järvinen reminds.
The page had been translated into several languages, and dubbed videos were also published in many languages.
According to the police, there are no Finns among the suspects.
Wiseling's website had been translated into many languages.
Basically, according to Järvinen, Wiseling is a traditional Ponzi scam: the scam company collects money from its customers and says that it invests in the sites that produce them.
Indeed, the first outgoing investors seem to get their money back in multiples.
In reality, however, the money does not come from investment income, but from the capital supplied to the company by new and later cheaters.
- These are the first to make mistakes and imagine that things are working as promised.
For this reason, they spread the word in their immediate circle, and new victims go along.
As it is a matter of global network marketing, such circles are emerging in different countries where the message is spreading.
These scam-believing investors therefore market the scam forward and thus become like criminals in this activity.
Järvinen wants to emphasize that only fools and incompetents do not get cheated.
Also in the case of Wiseling, the home page and the video material produced were very credible.
In addition, genuine enrichment stories following cryptocurrencies create hope for abrupt enrichment and contribute to making the work of scammers easier.
According to Järvinen, people want to believe in getting rich and then it will be harder to notice the warning signs.
- Cryptocurrency offers a lot of guaranteed and high-yielding investments that are scams.
Wiseling is just one example, it should be kept in mind.
Director of Investigation Marttila also reminds that scams like Wiseling are becoming more common.
According to Marttila, who is investigating the case, the Wiseling case was investigated at the turn of the year.
As this is an international case, the police may rely on international assistance.
- There are things we can find out for ourselves and things we have to ask for help from abroad.
It is even possible that the investigation will be transferred completely abroad in connection with the fraud investigation if the case is strongly linked to one country, Marttila states.
On Instagram, several foreign investors linked to Wiseling have tried to reach the Finnish police via their Instagram ID.
The messages ask the Finnish police to act.
The police have received another hundred contacts from the parties involved, and according to Marttila, it is clear that this is a drop in the ocean.
Those who know something about or are victims of suspected fraud can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The international victims of the scam are trying to reach the Helsinki police.
Police are investigating the case.
The anxiety of those who have lost their money is also great in the Wiseling Telegram conversation.
- All my savings went.
If the service does not return this week, I will commit suicide.
This is not a joke, writes one.
The first media outlet about Wiseling was the Society.
Wiseling's promotional video was traced to Russia.
The picture shows a man using the name Matias Lappo, who presents himself as the company's CEO.