Last year there were 115,000 reported cases of fraud in Sweden, with foreigners, single parents, and high school dropouts most often targeted by scams, according to research from Sweden’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå).
However, police were only able to connect a suspect to the fraud claims in 16 percent of the cases.
Last year alone, three percent of Swedes were tricked out of money or valuables by scammers, according to the crime prevention council.
This figure corresponds with roughly 216,000 adults; with 4 percent of the cases involving losses of more than 100,000 kronor ($14,219).
However, the majority of victims are tricked out of somewhere between two and ten thousand kronor.
Johanna Hagstedt, investigator at Brå, explained that the crimes are hard to solve due to the sheer spread of data online.
“The big problem is that you can use the internet to send out 400 emails which can give 400 police reports. But if the police don’t find any suspected perpetrators it’s difficult to solve,” she told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).
Meanwhile, Swedish prosecutor Hans Ihrman explains that the criminals, are often very verbally competent, and can make victims feel stupid as they are being duped.
“The scammers are often polite and verbal people,” he explained.
“I am a little cynical now, but if the court can identify with a suspect and if that person appears to be the sort of person one would normally hang around with, one listens more to what that person says than one would listen to, say, a Russian pimp.”
Of the 8,000 suspected fraudsters in Sweden last year, the statistics show that only 21 percent were women, a fact that was unsurprising to prosecutors.
“No one thinks that a blonde, who on the surface is a pleasant woman, could be an economic crook,” Swedish lawyer Mats Österholm told the paper.