Thousands of people have already fallen for telephone scammers who pretend to be Europol employees – in some cases also Interpol employees – and in this way swindle several thousand euros.
According to the police, around 4,300 reports have been filed in Berlin alone since March. By mid-July, the police had registered around 3,500 fraudulent calls. And in 60 percent of these reported cases, the perpetrators were successful and had stolen money.
[If you want all the latest news live on your phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]
The damage reported in Berlin was already at a total of 320,000 euros. According to the Berlin police, the range for the individual amounts of damage, if the fraudsters were really able to steal money, ranges between amounts in the high three-digit and mid-five-digit range.
The number of calls is likely to be many times higher than officially known; the vast majority of those who suspect the scam and end the calls immediately will not report it afterwards. The Berlin police press office also knows of their own colleagues who have received the corresponding fraudulent calls.
The perpetrators proceed as follows: As a rule, a German mobile or landline number appears on the display of the mobile phone. An English tape announces that the call comes from Europol. In some cases it is also called Interpol. The personal papers were noticed in illegal activities. You should press one for more information. The police strongly advise against this, instead you should end the conversation immediately.
Anyone who doesn’t hang up immediately but stays on the phone is put through to a suspected Europol employee. He tells the victims, for example, that the accounts will be blocked as part of the investigation. “They are now being offered by the callers that they could temporarily protect their money. For this purpose, those affected should transfer their money abroad in various ways,” the police describe the content of the conversation.
[The district newsletter from the Tagesspiegel keeps you up to date on what’s happening in your neighborhood. Order free of charge at tagesspiegel.de/bezirke]
The perpetrators then persuade those called to download remote maintenance software (AnyDesk) and then transfer money. In contrast to other telephone scams, in which the criminals primarily look for older people as victims based on their names in telephone directories – keyword grandchild trick – tens of thousands of cell phone numbers are dialed at random with this procedure. Those affected report that they have been called several times – also from different numbers – and that they have then blocked them.
Neither the local police nor international agencies such as Interpol or Europol would ever ask for money to be transferred over the phone, the police press office said. She advises not revealing any details about personal or financial circumstances on the phone, not following the caller’s requests, not getting involved in a conversation or being put under pressure, but hanging up. Above all, one should never transfer or give money to unknown persons. Anyone who has been cheated out of money should file a criminal complaint with the local police.