Wrong police officers, grandchildren’s tricks or an allegedly new phone number: almost every day police stations in Germany report cases of fraud through which victims have often lost large amounts of money. These are the common scams described by police authorities and consumer advocates and the possible protection against them – healthy mistrust is appropriate in all cases.

The first contact is over the phone. Callers pretend to be police officers or other officials. With a technical trick, the emergency number 110 or the number of the local police station appears on the phone display of the person called, which is why many people who are called lose their suspicions. As a made-up story, it is then told that money or valuables are no longer safe in the house and must be picked up promptly by plainclothes police officers. This is of course a pure lie.

The police advise never to put yourself under pressure on the phone and just hang up. In addition, police officers would never pick up money or valuables from private individuals. If suspected police officers are standing in front of the door, they should always ask for their ID to be shown.

With this scam, the perpetrators pretend to be close relatives on the phone – grandchildren, possibly also children or children-in-law. The rhetorically skilful perpetrators tell the false story of a financial emergency caused by an accident, an emergency operation or the purchase of a house. An extremely urgent situation is described. Often there are repeated calls until the victim gives in and agrees to pay. As part of the scam, cash or valuables are always collected by an acquaintance of the alleged grandson.

The police advise never to be put under pressure on the phone in such cases. Even the question “Guess who is speaking here?” should make you suspicious. Money or valuables should never be given to strangers. Called persons should speak to other relatives or acquaintances if they are asked for money over the phone. If in doubt, the police should always be notified.

A scam that is now widespread is fraud via messenger services such as Whatsapp. The fraudsters pretend to be relatives or acquaintances with short messages such as “Hello mom/hello grandpa, my cell phone is broken, this is my new number” and claim that the phone number displayed is the new availability number. As soon as a dialogue begins via this number, money is demanded, as in the other scams with an invented emergency.

To protect yourself, the police recommend calling the actual children/grandchildren on the number used previously. As a rule, the fraud is then directly exposed. The other number should be blocked and the incident reported to the police. Never should the demand for a money transfer be given in to such new numbers.

As with fake police officers, there are also phone calls from fake bank employees as a scam. The perpetrators have usually obtained their victims’ data in other ways before making such calls and can thus easily deceive them. In the course of these fraud talks, the perpetrators regularly demand confirmation of a pushTAN in order to allegedly prevent an unjustified debit. By confirming the pushTAN, however, the perpetrators can actually make debits.

According to the police in Rhineland-Palatinate, the damage amounts to between a thousand and more than 100,000 euros. In such cases, the police also advise simply hanging up the phone – your own bank will never ask for a pushTAN over the phone.