Watch out for fraudulent calls from alleged Europol employees

Kristina Ohr 31 Mar 2022

Beware of calls from Europol or in the name of the police.

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is currently warning against fraudulent calls in the name of Europol or alleged international investigation teams. The perpetrators falsely claim that victims’ personal data or  identity has been stolen s and that criminals are now using that information. 

Two of our colleagues  already received one of these calls. The first call was an automated greeting that said that their data had been stolen and that they should press number 1 to speak to a Europol employee. The colleagues were then connected to a real person. According to the BKA, a special technical procedure is used for the calls, which is why the recipients are shown a phone number that actually belongs to Europol or a German police station. Our colleagues, on the other hand, were called from regular cell phone numbers.

One colleague, who we’ll call “Sarah,” received the call when she was on the road and distracted on a Saturday afternoon. She thought, “Europol is calling? It must be serious!” The automated message at the beginning was credible and the woman on the phone sounded thoughtful. She even had answers for many of Sarah’s questions.

"Even more so, the way the lady spoke on the phone was believable and serious,” Sarah says. “Only after the conversation did I realize that she had asked me for my name at the beginning, which she should actually know if my identity had actually been stolen.”

In the process, the callers wanted to obtain the following personal data for alleged verification of identity: 

  • First and last name
  • Address
  • ID card number
  • One colleague was also asked which banks she had an account with. 

We assume that the scammers could use the information requested to open a bank account in the victim's name, possibly at a bank where the victim is not yet a customer. The BKA also reports requests for payment by the fraudsters.

What should you do if you receive a call like this? 

  • Do not disclose your personal data on the phone and do not allow yourself to be pressured. 
  • Do not give out your bank account or other payment information. 
  • Remember that Europol has no authority to fine you or take any other criminal action against you. Just hang up.
  • If you have communicated your information or paid money, contact your local police and file a criminal complaint if necessary.

Finally, please share this post with your friends or family so that others also learn about this scam, so we can all stay protected.

Further reading:
Examining the language tech support scammers use to scam
Investigating tech support fraud
How to identify scam calls

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