Munich has recently been experiencing a rise in so-called false policeman crimes. These acts of theft and fraud are targeted at elderly and vulnerable people and performed by criminals masquerading as policemen when ringing their potential victims with a fabricated story. The police think they may be finding their victims by going through the phonebook and seeking out people who have a name which may be more likely to belong to an eldery person.
The fraudulent scheme sees the perpetrator phone the elderly person and claim that there has been a spate of burglaries in the neighbourhood, and that the recipient of the call had their details recovered from a list of future potential targets of the burglars. The false policeman then proceeds to request their intended victim to gather together their valuables, including emptying their bank accounts of large sums of money, and leaving these possessions in a bag in a certain location, usually outside the property where they live. There, they claim, they will come by and retrieve the belongings for safe-keeping. The criminal then comes by later as they explained they would and steals the unsuspecting pensioner's belongings.
Often these crimes involve tens of thousands of euros, which the victim was encouraged to take from their bank account, which can amount to an elderly person's entire life savings. The consequences can be dire for the victims and lead to knock-on effects such as fear, depression and anxiety, as well as financial uncertainty and hardship. These criminals are ruthless and are destroying the lives of many innocent elderly victims in the Munich region.
Munich police are not helpless in this matter however and have scored a number of hits in recent weeks. In one example of this type of crime, the potential victim had the presence of mind to immediately contact the police, whom then set up a trap to apprehend the thief as he attempted to collect the money. He was caught in the act and arrested.
In another case a bank teller noticed a pensioner removing a large sum of money and was able to advise and, with the agreement of the pensioner, get the police involved to again capture the criminal red-handed.
Indeed, Munich police are becoming adept at catching these criminals, if they are given the chance to do so by any potential vctim the criminal contacts. Therefore it is crucial that the elderly are made aware of the risks.
As this crime is becoming more common, it is important for neighbours and family of elderly people to warn those who may be vulnerable, about the perils of these false policemen. If anyone receives such a phone call, they should contact the Munich police immediately and not part with any sum of cash or valuables. No genuine police officers would ring and request any withdrawal of money, with the police offering this advice:
- The police will never ask you for money or valuables!
- Do not let strangers into your home.
- Do not allow yourself to be put under pressure and, as a matter of principle, never hand over money to strangers and do not put valuables in front of the door to be picked up.
Photo by Markus Spiske