In Thuringia, the number of criminal offenses in the field of trick fraud by telephone almost doubled in the past year. In 2022, the police recorded a total of 5,314 cases in the Free State - the year before there were 2,801 such offenses. The State Criminal Police Office (LKA) told the German Press Agency that there has been a continuous increase in the number of cases in recent years.
The perpetrators make contact by phone or via Whatsapp, pretend to be relatives or acquaintances and dish out legends to their victims, such as buying or repairing a house or car. Other emergencies such as alleged accidents involving children are also faked, for which bail payments are due. In addition, scammers pretend to be a police officer, judge or prosecutor in charge of a case and thus trick those called into handing over money or valuables.
According to the LKA, victims in Thuringia were cheated out of almost 4.5 million euros last year by such deceptions. The damage (around 1.2 million euros) and the number of cases of fraud via WhatsApp (1856) are particularly high. Since February 2022, perpetrators have been making massive attempts to use the Thuringian messenger service to arrange for transfers to be made.
The scammers approach the victims as allegedly close relatives and claim to have a new number because their cell phone is broken or lost. They then ask for several urgent referrals for the alleged relative. According to the LKA 2022, in 416 completed cases of Whatsapp fraud, mostly parents often transferred two sums of money totaling an average of almost 3,000 euros to the perpetrators before they became suspicious.
After shock calls, injured parties paid an average of around 24,000 euros to the unknown perpetrators for supposed bail after fatal accidents in 42 completed cases - according to the LKA, damage here exceeded one million euros last year.
According to the information given, the average age of those called was 63 years last year. The age tended to decrease somewhat, it said. This is due to the fact that the fraudsters with accidental shock calls or via Whatsapp were aimed more at parents than at grandparents.