Again and again scammers try to rip people off by phone or text. They want to steal data or persuade people to make transfers. They often pretend to be someone else – even as a representative of the European police authority Europol.
The phone rings and an employee of the European police authority Europol answers. Or you get an official-looking e-mail from the authority. In fact, you should always be careful in such a case. Because instead of the police, scammers are behind the messages, who are after personal data and money. The so-called “Europol rip-off” now comes in several variants, but they all have in common that the official character is intended to put pressure on those affected.
That’s behind the Europol scam on the phone
The scammers, posing as Europol employees, report an alleged identity theft over the phone. The data was stolen from those affected and is now being used for crimes, the warning said. In the course of the conversation, the fraudsters themselves ask for data in order to compare them. In addition, they sometimes try to tempt the called party to transfer various amounts of money.
A TECHBOOK editor was also called by an alleged Europol employee and informed about an identity theft. The person on the other end of the line spoke English with a heavy accent. The number had even tried several times throughout the day to reach her. In this case, the scam was also easy to identify because it was a cell phone number: +49 176 23816914.
However, this is not always the case. In some cases, the scammers even use a technical process to display Europol’s real number on the phone when making calls. So they look deceptively real. This makes telephone fraud particularly dangerous and also intimidates those called.
Also read: Numbers you shouldn’t answer at the moment
False emails on behalf of Europol
Repeated warn various authorities also from fraudulent e-mails, called phishing messages. These apparently also come from Europol and attract attention with attention-grabbing subject lines such as “judicial summons”, “summons to court” or similar. The recipient should then comment on the allegation made in the message as soon as possible. These range from “exhibitionism” to “child pornography”.
TECHBOOK also has a current message with the corresponding content, which is said to have come from the “minors (sic!) protection brigade”. If the recipient of the message does not respond within the deadline, an arrest warrant is threatened. In addition, additional pressure is built up: “Your file will also be transmitted to the media for distribution, where your family, friends and all of Germany can see what you are doing in front of your computer.”
Don’t let such news unsettle you. At first glance, the supposed e-mail from Europol looks legitimate. Corresponding emblems can be found above and the address of the Federal Police Headquarters is also correct. In the message we received, Julia Flockermann was even named as a real person, a presiding judge of the Berlin Regional Court. However, if you look closely, you will discover numerous grammatical errors in the text. And the logos and names of the authorities are mixed up, sometimes indiscriminately. This circumstance and the dubious sender of the alleged Europol e-mail unmask the message very clearly as a fake.
How can you protect yourself?
In general, those called should never reveal confidential data on the phone if they do not know the caller personally and exactly. The BKA also points out that the police – regardless of which department or authority it is – never ask for transfers over the phone or ask about the financial situation. She also does not send people over to hand over a sum of money personally.
If you receive this or a similar call, it is best to hang up immediately. Don’t get caught up in a conversation. The same applies to said e-mail, which you should delete immediately and not click on any link. It is best to file a criminal complaint with the local police station.