top of page

AI: Watching out for you. Three financial scams, analysed for free by

This is about using AI privately, in simple ways, for self-protection against scams, and for protecting others from being cheated out of money. Also, it´s three real life cases.

Here, I give a few examples how Claude can help to analyse scams. For example, one can do the following, and here I provide examples for each of these methods:

  • Analyse chats (WhatsApp, FB)

  • Analyse documents (Terms of Service, etc).

  • Analyse country-risks

Asked for advice by friends, I discovered a new AI usage, different from my other AI activities: the new task was to analyse ongoing scams and to provide advice, and to analyse proposals that look like they might be financial scams.

There´s a flood of scams. People are targeted indiscriminately. The following examples are real. The first case is a close friend and the second case is a personal acquaintance. Both asked for for advice.

  • Famous people: an artist is talked into losing money on a financial scam with high-risk instruments.

  • People with a little visibility on the web: a donkey-guide in a Southern country gets a proposal to invest in a Dubai/Russian scheme with zero protection of his investments.

  • All of us on FB: many of us are getting ads for a hypnosis course for slimming. If you subscribe, you will be astonished at the time of the automatic subscription extension.

Scam-target 1: a world-known artist "invests" in high-risk instruments. Analysis of a WhatsApp chat

This scam began with a very famous artist (here called "S") , a bit lonely this night, browsing the internet. Yes, artists, like all of us, can sometimes long for company. She received, via her public email and then phone, a contact by what she described as a very personal and friendly man ("Jones Quincy" - as a jazz lover she might have become suspicious already here...).

Later, it turned out that he in reality was a scammer, likely from Nigeria, who proposed to her to make money quickly. Luckily, she quickly changed the conversation to WhatsApp. Thus, not the initial contact but the subsequent chat history is fully documented.

As I said, this artist is known world-wide, but is (or now, was) very naive about money matters. Nevertheless, she got a bit nervous when it seemed impossible to withdraw even a small amount of her alleged profits that she was shown on a fake screen. At that point, she asked me what to do.

The following screen on the fake scammer website shows her alleged account balance of 17.925, 38 EUR This is the alleged result, after two weeks, of having transferred 4750.00 EUR to a scammer account by Visa and direct transfer via WISE. This corresponds to a yearly growth rate of ca 7000%.

Obviously, the number is a typed-in fantasy amount. The scammer must have noted, that she had no idea of things like risk/reward relations in investing.


So, I tried to convince her that this was a scam. Initially, she was reluctant to accept the possibility.  It is not easy to admit to oneself that one was cheated. It is, in fact, a traumatising event.

Therefore, I sought "third-party help", and for this purpose I uploaded the entire WhatsApp chat to Claude to ask various questions and to get neutral answers.

Here are two selected questions to Claude: an analysis of the scammer´s approach, and a request for advice.

Q: For the entire conversation, analyse the linguistic tricks employed by the scammer to convince S that the investment is legal, profitable and safe.


The scammer uses various linguistic and psychological tactics to manipulate S into believing the investment scheme is legal, profitable, and safe, including:
1. Appearing polite and trustworthy early on by calling S "dear" and saying he "wants to help" guide investing. This establishes a false sense of caring and support.
2. Repeatedly promising extremely high returns often over 150%, claiming $1,000s in extra profits. This fuels unrealistic expectations to incentivize sending more money.
3. Reassuring S it will be a "good Christmas" and celebrating fake account balance increases. This adds false confirmation that profits are actively accumulating.
4. Blaming delays, technical glitches, or S´s own bank/devices when she tries to withdraw funds. Deflecting responsibility to keep the scam going.
5. Citing urgent "time sensitive" investment windows, account suspensions, or withdrawal deadlines to incite hasty decisions without proper research. Adds false scarcity.
6. Using financial jargon like "liquidity," "verification," and "crypto wallets" to parrot legitimate processes. Helps disguise the scheme's illegitimacy.
7. Denying S´s statements about having sent thousands with no returns so far. Gaslighting to hide deceit when she gets skeptical.
8. Referencing other clients taking out loans or investing more to imply such risky behavior is normal and sanctioned. Attempts to normalize poor financial judgment.
Through these tactics - false charm, impossible promises, celebrating fake gains, deflecting blame, manufactured urgency, financial terminology, denying realities, gaslighting - the scammer linguistically manipulates S´s emotions and psychology. This progresses the scam despite logical awareness that such suspiciously high investment returns with no withdrawals are too good to be true. The linguistic tricks exploit emotional vulnerabilities rather than rational thought.

And here, a request for advice:

Q: Explain in particular the risk of blackmail in this operation

I asked this question when S - in anger and frustration - suggested a counter scam. I won´t go into the detail of this, but it carried - I thought - a risk of later blackmail to be involved in illegal activities.


There is a real and serious risk of blackmail within this scam operation. Some specific ways the scammer could blackmail S:
1. Threaten to report her for money laundering or being a willing participant in his criminal scheme unless she pays him more money. Since funds did transmit through her accounts, he could falsely claim she was complicit.
2. Intimidate her using personal information harvested during remote access to her devices, like financial account details, identity documentation, or personal photos/messages. The scammer could threaten exposing or manipulating these if she does not cooperate with further payment or laundering requests.
3. Send evidence to police misrepresenting S´s transactions as willing participation in illegal activity knowing reputation damage or criminal charges could follow. Then demand she pays to avoid false allegations raised.
4. Manipulate past transfers to make it appear funds S withdrew were later traced to drug trades or terrorism. Then blackmail her over the fictional laundering exposure.
In essence, the scammer could technically manufacture "evidence" framing S as criminally involved in money laundering or financial fraud tied to serious crimes. Then he can intimidate her to perpetuate moving Additional stolen money by threatening to release fabricated proof that could result in legal charges or reputational ruin if she fails to comply. It is an insidious extension of psychological coercion.
The unfortunate reality is the sensitive data and money flow access the scammer secured equip him to blackmail S in many fraudulent ways if she halts voluntary participation. It underlines the inherent danger of engaging financially with deceitful cybercriminals - the exposure remains forever.

Scam-target 2: a donkey-guide is to "invest" in a fraudulent scheme run from Dubai

This scam began on a peaceful donkey-walk. This is local attraction in Southern European countries, where tourists book a walk with a few donkeys. Donkeys, I know by now, are amazing animals, very different in their emotionality from horses, and potentially therapeutic. On this occasion, the couple who had booked the walked tried to tempt the donkey-guide into a high-risk investment scheme. It involved cryptocurrency and other instruments of which he had never heard.

It sounds unlikely, but donkey-guides can make a lot of money if they don´t pay tax (and some don´t): a donkey-walk for 40 euro per person/walk of 90 minutes for a 4-person group is 160 euro. If the guide makes 3 such tours a day, it´s tax-free 480/day. In summer, this can happen daily, so the monthly income would be 40*480 = 14400 euro. Ok, this is a wildly optimistic assumption, so make it 4000-8000 euro of tax-free monthly income during the tourist season (of course much less outside of holiday season). So, even a donkey-guide can be a valuable target, in particular as he is most likely financially naive.

This particular donkey-guide, in a complex story deserving a novel, had developed a good business, starting as a shoe-less tramp in the little village some 8 years ago, and by finding a good-hearted helper, developed into a quite sophisticated money-maker, with high-grade video-equipment to advertise his business on the web. But, he was very intelligent but not sophisticated in investment matters. So, he happened to talk to me about the proposal (after all he knew that I had worked at banks), and I looked it up.

It was an investment scheme for high-risk products, run from Dubai and Russia, under the leadership of an ex-wrestler and his wife, and some other dubious Russians as software developers and partners.

The scheme operates such that participants have a downline of other investors they pulled in, as in any pyramid or MLM scheme. And it allegedly trades with different money market instruments.

Would this scheme ever pay out any profit? Or, would the entire scheme one day simply disappear from the earth?

I can´t say. I can only assess probabilities. And here, the probability of payout is practically zero, and the probability of the money disappearing into the universe is very high. That becomes visible through the documentation on the website.


The investment application holds a few long and involved but unobtrusive documents in a footer area.

The donkey-guide had not read them, of course. In fact, the friendly people who convinced him, and had generously invested 100 euro for him for a start, had made sure that he would not: they had opened the account for him and ticked all the boxes for him without his knowledge. He had no clue what he had signed up to.

However, he was impressed that their original "present" of 100 euro had grown to 150 euro in 4 weeks. This corresponds to a yearly growth rate of 650%.

So, in this case, my approach was to let analyse those unobtrusive documents for investment risks. Here my final question:

Q: Compile an aggregate risk report from the individual risk reports.

Assess the probability that this setup is a scam.

Give the user advice how to act.

Here is an aggregate risk report summarizing the key risks across the various agreements:
Overarching Risks
- High probability of losing entire investment/deposits without recourse
- Company can unilaterally terminate accounts, change terms, deny payments at any time without notice
- All promotions and claims are speculative; no guarantees or obligations
- Very limited avenues for accountability, liability protections or restitution
Financial Risks
- No guarantees funds/assets will maintain value or be accessible
- Tax implications are undefined but likely significant liabilities
- Investors likely forfeit all rights and control over deposited assets
Data/Privacy Risks
- Extensive personal data collection without consent or transparency
- Data sharing with unspecified third parties
- Persistent confidentiality duties even post-agreement
Legal Risks
- Governing law largely favors company over users
- User legal recourses not defined and likely limited
- Company can transfer user rights/agreements without consent
Given the complete lack of financial security, unchecked unilateral control by the company, lack of accountability mechanisms, and conflicts with user interests across all agreements - there is an extremely high probability that this setup is a fraudulent scam operation not a legitimate investment opportunity.
My advice would be to avoid engaging with this provider altogether given the overwhelmingly asymmetric risks weighted against users. There are no bindings or oversight that could provide meaningful protections or recourse. And promoters are incentivized to disguise, downplay or outright misrepresent the considerable user risks. Financial losses could be total and irreversible. I would recommend continuing to search for investment opportunities that demonstrate much greater transparency, accountability and balancing of risks. Let me know if any other questions!

Scam-target 3: you and I are targeted on FB to "invest" in yourself in a hypnotic slimming course

This scam came to me and possibly to thousands others as a Facebook ad for weightloss through hypnosis.


This scam begins when in FB you get a reel with a great hypnotic voice

I have training as a hypnotist, and so I got interested (I did. not need to lose weight).

I got a bit suspicious when I saw the schematic reviews on the website , and the country of residence, Lithuania. Like Dubai, I would not trust Lithuania instinctively. The following address is on the footer line:

Rebilita UAB, Gedimino str. 45-7,

LT-44239 Kaunas, Lithuania

The overall rating by reviewers on Google is a straight 1.0, and 100% of all reviews warn that this is a scam. This is very different from the (fake) reviews on the original website: they are all glowing.

To protect oneself from risks, one must never trust reviews. Thus, for the first scam, I had let Claude analyse a set of reviews for a second involved company. This solicitor company offers services to recover money from scams. But, looking at the reviews, it just looked like a scammer riding on the back of another scammer.

Q: Assess whether the reviews of XXX solicitors were written by different persons or by the same person. Indicate the elements of structure and style that lead to your conclusion.

After analyzing the 11 reviews for XXX Solicitors, there are strong indications they were written by the same person pretending to be different customers:
Structural and Stylistic Evidence:
1. Very similar length and amount of detail provided in each review. They have an identical structured approach recounting an overview, specific details, and closing recommendation.
2. Consistent use of emojis and expressive punctuation like exclamation points across reviews not typical for legal services. Suggests a pattern from one creative writer.
3. Much repetition of distinctive phrases praising "great experience," "extremely satisfied," "highly recommend" their services in every single review. This mirrors the language on the website more than unique customers.
4. Overly positive reviews considering research shows even top law firms average 60-80% satisfaction rates. The 100% 5 star praise implies one biased voice.
5. Every review contains similar claims about being "informed," "responsive," "supportive" during cases. But no specifics on actual legal outcomes, dollar amounts recovered, or uniqueness of each author's situation.
In summary - the extremely formulaic structure, emphatic tone, and redundancy of themes indicative of fabricated experiences rather than credible, distinct customers. The reviews more closely resemble promotional website copy altered slightly to seem organic. But the similar patterns suggest one author posing deceptively, not real experiences with this law firm.

Never trust reviews blindly!

Back to Lithuania:

Their money-making scheme is not the original subscription but the terms of service: what happens after the original subscription.


So, first I asked about Lithuania. Was I right to be suspicious?

Q: Is there any reason why one might suspect that Lithuania is a good country to run scams from?


Here are some potential reasons why Lithuania may be seen as a favorable location for scammers:
1. Relaxed regulations - Lithuania has relatively relaxed regulations and consumer protection laws compared to many Western countries. This makes it easier for questionable businesses to operate.
2. EU location - Being an EU member, Lithuania-based companies can more easily market to and accept payments from consumers across Europe. This broadens the pool of potential targets.
3. Limited oversight - As a small country focused mainly on domestic issues, Lithuanian authorities likely devote fewer resources to prosecuting overseas consumer fraud. This reduces the risk for scammers.
4. Anonymous ownership - Lithuanian corporate laws allow company owners a fair degree of anonymity and flexibility in registration. This helps scammers hide their identities and finances.
5. Language advantages - High English proficiency in Lithuania allows scammers to communicate smoothly with English-speaking target audiences.
6. Electronic infrastructure - Lithuania has advanced electronic payment systems and IT infrastructure, facilitating efficient movement of digital funds with less traceability.
However, it's important to note that most Lithuanian businesses are legitimate. These factors mainly make it easier for scammers to operate there compared to some other countries. But Lithuania's EU membership also exposes it to continent-wide regulations and law enforcement cooperation aimed at reducing fraud.

Thus, I let Claude analyse the Terms and Services document

Q: Analyse the client risk for this terms of service contract


Based on my review, here are some of the key client risks I identified in this terms of service contract:
1. Broad limitations of liability. The provider disclaims nearly all liability, even for negligence, indirect or consequential damages. This significantly limits the client's ability to recover damages.
2. Automatic renewal and continuous billing. The online hypnotherapy course subscriptions automatically renew and continue billing the client until explicitly cancelled. This could result in unintended charges if the client forgets to cancel.
3. No refunds. Once digital services are delivered, they cannot be returned or refunded except in very limited circumstances. This gives the client very little recourse if dissatisfied.
4. Unilateral changes. The provider reserves the broad right to unilaterally change terms, prices, and policies at any time with limited notice to the client. This reduces predictability and gives the provider significant control.
5. Data use. Personal data collection and use practices are fairly broad, and covered mainly by referring the client to review a separate privacy policy not included here. Limits on data use are unclear.
6. Dispute resolution favors provider. Governing law favors the provider's jurisdiction. Dispute options for clients are limited mainly to what the provider allows or consumer protection agencies.
In summary, the terms overall favor the provider significantly over the client in most areas. I would recommend the client try to negotiate improvements in refund policies, limitations of liability, unilateral changes clauses, automatic renewals, and data usage/privacy before agreeing.

It´s actually worse, because this assessment does not include information about the horrendous price increases of the automatic followup subscriptions (100ds to 1000ds of percent).

So, in summary, AI will be used against us (scammers will become better), but we may also use it as protect us.



A thought on...

bottom of page