A perfidious scam. Who wants to have anything to do with the police? In addition, such scams often catch you on the completely wrong foot. And then sometimes it takes a while for us to understand what is happening.
So it was with me. I was in the UK having breakfast in the kitchen at the time of the call. And then a man tells me in English in a firm voice on the phone that investigations are underway against me — in Germany by foreign police authorities — and that my ID card has been misused, that there are problems and that I now urgently need to listen. The call came back to Germany the day before I left.
For me, the penny didn’t drop right away. Also because the number on the display seemed to come from Germany, which was not true. The call came from abroad, the number was disguised.
Be important, build pressure, intimidate, unsettle you through the English language, stir up fear, request data. That’s the escalation. No new scam. But always in a new guise.
It started harmless for me. First, the man, “Police Officer Solomon Richard,” introduced himself. Emphatically stated that I was being investigated, with good intentions, not to harm me. Whether I was in Berlin recently, rented a car, whether there were friends or family members who wanted to harm me. Then he asked for my name (which is public anyway) and then read “my case” to me. Before that, however, he said I should take a pen and write down my “case ID”. That is very important. So the supposed file number of my case.
Then he read me “my offense”. A car with cocaine in it was rented on my ID. In addition, several bank accounts were opened in my name and people were cashed. Ah, I thought. And wondered if that could really be. With today’s online identification procedures, it was difficult for me to imagine that fraudsters would open a bank account with my ID – whatever it was.
I asked back which address the car had been rented from. It was supposedly an address in Berlin. (Well, I thought, he doesn’t have my real address.)
The “Officer” became more and more demanding, louder and louder – and I slowly woke up.
What the scammers want on the phone?
Most likely personal data and money. That’s as far as the Mr. Fraudster didn’t come to me. As a matter of principle, I do not reveal any personal data on the phone if I am not calling. And he had betrayed himself quite early on by not knowing it.
The NRW police found out that the fraudsters are concerned with:
- that the callees open accounts for cryptocurrencies and
- transfer money abroad.
However, according to the banking association, it is also possible that
- Remote maintenance software is to be installed on the smartphone or computer
- PIN, TANs and bank data are requested
- card details and dates of birth
How to spot the phone call scam
All of this would be laughable if the scammers on the phone weren’t so well trained. You build up enormous pressure, a pull. But you can avoid it with these basic rules. If you internalize this, you will do everything right right from the start. Namely: Don’t get drawn into such conversations and hang up IMMEDIATELY.
These basic rules help to keep a cool head in situations where scammers want to rip us off by phone — and hang up.
Most important rule:
x If you someone unasked calls, that you don’t know, NEVER give out personal information such as names, date of birth, home address, ID numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers. Never, even if the Emperor of China calls.
For example, legally a company can only call you if you have given your express prior permission to do so or if they are in exchange anyway. That means: If someone calls you without being asked, that is already a warning sign and should wake you up.
Important to know:
1 Important facts such as police investigations or reports or other legal matters are communicated in writing. By regular mail. There is no exception.
2 Do not give out any personal data to people, companies or institutions on the phone. People with serious intentions would never ask for it. So if someone asks for their name, date of birth, account etc., whom you did not call (!)you know immediately: I am talking to scammers.
3 If someone exerts pressure or deliberately stirs up fears in you, you become suspicious. Because that is exactly part of scams.
4 If you are asked in such conversations to load programs onto your computer or smartphone, don’t even think about it. Hang up immediately.
5 Also, never wire money to someone who calls you out of the blue and puts pressure on you.
Instead of engaging in a conversation, do this: Hang up.
This type of scam even has a name:
Vishing – Fraud over the phone
Phishing, smishing, vishing: three ways criminals fish your data, all of which are aimed at getting the money of the callee. The banking association regularly warns of this type of cybercrime. It cannot be eradicated, since the fraudsters are based abroad and investigations are therefore mostly in vain.
Therefore: Be attentive and take care of yourself and your money. Find out about scams so you can be prepared.
Scammers give themselves away when we ask questions
The caller gave himself away when he asked me for my “ID number” and I asked what ID he meant. My ID, passport, or tax ID? All different numbers. He didn’t respond to that, but instead pounded his voice into the phone again, asking me to give him the last three digits of my ID.
Sure, someone who calls from Germany and investigates me doesn’t know that there are these different IDs? Unlikely. The penny dropped. I wouldn’t have given him any personal information anyway, after all he called and I didn’t know him.
I told him to email me with all the allegations so I could pass it on to my attorney. He would certainly understand that as a serious “police officer”.
He then said even louder that this was taking too long and that if I didn’t cooperate on the phone now, my bank accounts and credit cards could be blocked.
That was clear to me. This is a scammer talking to me who has no idea about legal procedures. Because before German banks block an account, a lot has to happen. This must be preceded by a written procedure. In addition, the caller did not have an ID number for me, my address, or my full name. And he wanted to have my accounts blocked?
joker. I almost had to laugh. Also, I always have cash with me.
I wish you a good day. And hung up. I should have done it much earlier.
Of course, no email ever arrived.
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