In early August a pensioner from Vienna was tricked out of more than €20,000, the Federal Criminal Police said.
It was the 28th ‘nephew’ scam in Austria this year, and police estimate victims will have lost a total of one million euros.
Criminals phone people up and typically pose as a grandson, nephew or niece, who urgently needs to borrow some cash for a new car or home, for example. The scam is usually revealed too late, when the victim follows up with the actual relative.
As police became more aware of the scam the number of cases have gone down, there were 160 in 2011, and only 32 last year.
Police recommend that people help minimize their chances of falling victim to one of these elaborate scams by checking with other family members if they do get a call, asking questions that only the “real” family member would know the answers to, or calling local police departments.
Never let strangers into your house or apartment, and make a note of anybody who does contact you who you suspect might be a scammer.