Week 37 in review

21.09.2021 - The NCSC received an increased number of reports last week. Several variants of supposed threats on behalf of the police, among others, stood out. The emails threaten to initiate criminal proceedings against the recipient if no reply is received within 72 hours. Once again, a website promises victims of investment fraud that it will recover their lost money.

Fraudulent threatening emails on the increase

For some time now, fake threatening emails have been circulating on the internet, claiming that recipients have allegedly been filmed visiting a pornographic website. They threaten to publish the photo or video material if the ransom demanded is not paid by a certain deadline: this is a bluff. The extortionists try their luck and send such emails in the hope that the recipients include people who recently visited pornographic websites.

It appears that this ploy is no longer working and that scammers are increasingly looking for new scenarios to make threats. For example, the NCSC noticed last week a sharp increase in emails in which the recipients are accused of having consumed child pornographic material. The recipients are asked to email a written statement of reasons to the sender within 72 hours. Most of the time, this then leads to the payment of a surety in order to avoid arrest. A supposedly official appearance is used to try to convince the victims that the emails are actually from the law enforcement authorities. In most cases, the logos and stamps of Europol, Interpol or the French police are used. However, the sender and documents are all bogus and private email addresses are in fact used to communicate with the victims.

Threatening email in the name of the police
Threatening email in the name of the police

Bigger guns are also increasingly being deployed in the case of classified ad fraud. In one case reported to the NCSC last week, the seller of an item on a classified ad platform was told to pay a fee to a transport service provider. This is a well-known scam that the NCSC has already highlighted several times. However, a new aspect here is that the victims were threatened several times by the alleged transport service provider, after they had noticed the scam and did not pay the amount. Ultimately, an email allegedly from the police was also sent, threatening criminal proceedings if the fee was not paid.

  • Ignore such threatening emails and do not allow yourself to be intimidated!
  • Contact the police if you are unsure.
Purported threat by the supposed transport service provider after a victim noticed the classified ad scam and did not pay.
Purported threat by the supposed transport service provider after a victim noticed the classified ad scam and did not pay.

When victims are duped out of their money twice

In the past, the NCSC often received reports of supposed lawyers, notaries or even law enforcement agencies contacting victims following an investment scam – currently often involving cryptocurrencies – and promising to recover the lost money. Last week, an entire website offering such services was reported to the NCSC. The homepage has an advertisement to "get your money back if it was lost due to fraud". To do this, all that is required is the person's surname, first name and email address. The name of the website "Kantonalberatung" suggests that it is an official cantonal office that supports victims of investment fraud. A quick look in the "Whois" directory for internet domains shows that the website was not registered until January 2021. There are also inconsistencies in the contact address: despite having its registered offices in Geneva and Jerusalem, the purported company has an Austrian telephone number. There is also no entry in the commercial register.

In these cases, after an initial free consultation, the victims are supposed to pay an advance "fee" in a second step. However, no guarantee is given that the money can be recovered. Here, the fraudsters take advantage of the victims' desperation and cheat them out of their money a second time.

  • Be careful if you are suddenly offered help by a third party after a case of fraud.
  • In particular, do not make any further payments, including any purported fees, to recover the money you lost.

Last modification 21.09.2021

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