Austrian police have warned the public about a scam that has apparently returned to the country: the “fake police officers” trick.
According to the authorities, the suspects contact their victims by phone, saying they are from the police and then try different techniques to get money from the people. In the most recent version of the con, the suspects pretend to be officials from international police body Interpol.
In one case reported to the police, a man was contacted by phone and told that over the course of an international police investigation, his name was associated with numerous bank accounts. The criminals told him he risked losing his savings unless he transferred his money to a secure Bitcoin wallet.
⚠Falsche Polizisten! Bei Anrufen, vermeintlich von Interpol, werden Opfer unter Druck gesetzt ihr Erspartes auf das Konto der Täter*innen zu transferieren. Es handelt sich um die Betrugsmasche "Polizistentrick". Näheres und Tipps ➡Presseaussendungen: https://t.co/BnVBAwAkt2 pic.twitter.com/ceFebeyxbd
— POLIZEI WIEN (@LPDWien) June 16, 2022
The 26-year-old man followed instructions and transferred money to the account.
He lost over €10,000, according to the police who did not reveal the full amount.
Another case involved a 37-year-old man who was informed he was talking to an Interpol official. The person explained, in English, that documents with the victim’s identity were found and used to open several fake bank accounts. The victim was asked to confirm which accounts really belonged to him and was instructed to carry out several transactions using cryptocurrency.
The victim also lost over €10,000 although police did not reveal the full amount.
How to avoid falling victim
Austrian police have reiterated to members of the public that they never require cash transactions to be carried out by phone. The authorities also recommend stopping suspicious phone calls immediately and then call police on the number 133.
Also, authorities remind the population not to disclose any details about financial circumstances or sensitive data over the phone.
It is also worth noting that cryptocurrency payment requests since the cash is not traceable, are a big red flag. If you are asked to send money via a bitcoin or other crypto wallet, under any circumstances, that should raise alarm bells. So be extra careful if this happens.
Other common scams
Recently, Austrian police warned about other scams, one in particular concerning the DHL postage company. SMS messages are sent to people, intended to look like a parcel notification from delivery service DHL.
The message typically reads that a “pending package” is available and it is the “last chance to pick it up”, before inviting the recipient to click on a link.
However, the link then installs malware on the recipient’s phone by inviting them to install an app.
Authorities remind people not to click on links. Instead, access the official website and check the information, or call the company to confirm.