Online messaging scams: More than 22 million stolen in Germany during 2022
The President of the Federal Criminal Police Office is encouraging people who use communication services such as WhatsApp to be vigilant of new scam techniques. In the first eight months of 2022 alone, users in Germany were scammed out of a collective 22 million euros.
40.000 message service scams registered with police
In a plea to mobile users, President of the Federal Criminal Police Office Holger Münch encouraged people in Germany to abandon the idea that they are too wise to fall for a scam on mobile services such as WhatsApp. “Older and younger people are affected by these scams,” Münch told the Berliner Morgenpost.
So far, German police have registered 40.000 such scams in Germany, and in just the first eight months of 2022, tricksters had successfully scammed mobile users out of 22 million euros across the country.
“In the cyber world, the tactics of message services scammers change rapidly, and these crimes aren’t limited to national borders,” the president told Berliner Morgenpost. The number of reported cybercrime incidents on the internet actually decreased by 6,5 percent from 146.363 in 2021 to 136.865 in 2022. But in his recent presentation of figures, Münch said that a comparison of 2022 figures to those of 2021 and 2020 were "only conditionally meaningful" because of the impact of coronavirus.
How to identify a WhatsApp messenger scam in Germany
Münch also warned users that because messaging scam techniques are constantly changing, they can be particularly hard to identify. However, the president did give some tips about what techniques scammers often use.
Targeted people often receive a message from someone posing as one of their trusted contacts. The message is likely to say something along the lines of, “My old phone is broken. Here’s my new number, please delete the old number and save this one instead.”
“Sooner or later a message will appear that they need help to pay an urgent bill and that their online bank account isn’t working because they have a new phone,” Münch said. The people who are convinced to make this bank transfer generally never see their money again. “Scammers send these messages out in bulk, and around 30 percent of their requests are successful.”
In order to protect oneself against such scams, Münch suggested sticking to a few rules: not sharing personal information on WhatsApp or any other messaging services, not opening suspicious links and attachments and enabling two-factor authentication for your messaging accounts.
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