Statistics show: – Two-thirds of all scams happen online

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In 2022, the security services were able to register 51,886 reports of fraud, making this form of crime ten percent of the total crime statistics. About half of all scams take place online. This share has been steadily increasing recently. In July 2023, two thirds of all advertisements related to online fraud.

Police are being challenged by the shift from fraud to the Internet, reports Manuel Scherscher, deputy BK director and head of the white-collar crime division: “Individual fraud is being replaced by the mass phenomenon.” To counter this, the first cyber-training center of the police in Upper Austria was launched a few days ago.

The Cybercrime Center of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department has existed since 2011. Since internet fraud often crosses borders, a fast-functioning international network of authorities is particularly important for the executive.

Double rip off
Scherscher presented to media representatives how much money is washed into the pockets of criminals as a result of online fraud. The criminals managed to get 60 million euros out of the pockets of others last year. Many of those affected were even scammed twice. First they lost their savings, then they fell for so-called law firms.

The so-called love scam, where victims are fooled into thinking they have found a “new love” on the Internet, is particularly insidious. An Austrian woman thought she had met a French car dealer through Facebook and fell in love with it. The woman transferred several 10,000 euros to the man between April and July 2022. In the previous year, about 540 cases of this type were registered with a total loss of 6.5 million euros. In the first half of 2023, there were already about 400 victims who lost a total of six million euros due to fraud.

“These criminals are often organized into gangs and have exceptionally well-trained staff,” says Scherscher. They maintain their own call centers through which victims are contacted. Recently, such a call center in India was broken up.

Fake webshops
Order fraud with fake webshops also cost 14 million euros to the wallets of victims last year. This year it has already amounted to ten million euros. “The perpetrators take advantage of the fast pace of modern life,” emphasizes BK Superintendent Horst Hakala. The cheapest offer can also be purchased quickly and easily with just one click on the mobile phone.

Phishing emails or messages are also on the rise. At the beginning of this year, text messages circulated stating that people had to transfer 350 euros to the tax authorities to prevent the seizure of their household effects. “Most people don’t have much time or don’t take the time to think about what they’re actually doing,” Hakala reveals. The perpetrators are fishermen and the victims are fish that take the bait in all kinds of ways.

Clarification of the scam
The federal detectives were able to quickly “deploy” the scam with the 350 euros to save the household effects that were supposedly at stake. Investigators discovered that Austrian IBAN numbers were used in the recipients’ accounts. The Federal Criminal Investigation Department therefore initiates the declaration of money laundering when these IBAN numbers have to be checked. This happened when I contacted the bank. In the end, more than 20 IBANs could be assigned to the offender group.

The money received in the affected accounts was frozen before the criminals could withdraw it. In this way, a quarter of a million euros could be returned to the rightful claimants. As far as the investigation of the perpetrators is concerned, according to the federal criminal investigation department there are “concrete suspicions” and an approved “investigation plan”. In order not to jeopardize the ongoing investigations, no further details can be given.

Source: Krone

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