Phone scammers cause damage of more than 320,000 euros in Berlin

Wed 24th Aug, 2022

Thousands of people have already fallen for telephone fraudsters who pretend to be employees of Europol - and in some cases also of Interpol - and in this way sometimes scam several thousand euros.

In Berlin alone, around 4300 reports have been filed since March, according to the police. By mid-July, the police had registered around 3500 fraudulent calls. And in 60 percent of these reported cases, the perpetrators were successful and had captured money.

The damage reported in Berlin at the time already totaled 320,000 euros. According to the Berlin police, the range for the individual amounts of damage, if the fraudsters were really able to get hold of money, is between amounts in the high three-digit range and a mid five-digit range.

The number of those called is probably many times higher than officially known; the vast majority of those who suspect the hoax and end the calls immediately will not subsequently press charges. The Berlin police press office also knows of its own colleagues who have received such fraudulent calls.

The perpetrators proceed as follows: As a rule, a German mobile or landline number appears on the cell phone display. An English recorded message says that the call is from Europol. In some cases, Interpol is also mentioned. The personal papers have come to light during illegal activities. One should press one for further information. The police strongly advise against this; instead, the call should be ended immediately.

Those who do not hang up immediately but remain on the phone are connected to a supposed Europol employee. He tells the victims that their accounts will be blocked as part of the investigation. "They are now offered by the callers that they could protect their money temporarily. For this purpose, the victims are supposed to transfer their money abroad in various ways," the police describe the content of the conversation.

The criminals then persuade the callers to download remote maintenance software (AnyDesk) and then transfer money. Unlike other telephone scams, in which the criminals primarily seek out elderly people as victims on the basis of their names in telephone directories (e.g., the grandchild trick), tens of thousands of cell phone numbers are dialed indiscriminately in this case. Victims report that they have been called several times - even by different numbers - and that they have then blocked them.

Neither the local police nor international services such as Interpol or Europol would ever ask for the transfer of money by telephone, the police press office stated. It advises people not to disclose details of personal or financial circumstances on the phone, not to follow the callers' prompts, not to get involved in a conversation or be put under pressure, but to hang up. Above all, one should never transfer or hand over money to unknown persons. Anyone who has been defrauded of money should file a criminal complaint with the local police.

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