Fraud: Fake call from Europol about misuse of my ID card

Europol call fraud

This is the second time I've received a call that appears to be about stealing personal information. It all started when my iPhone rang and displayed a German cell phone number – in my case +49-171-814860. I answered unsuspectingly and an English-speaking voice answered, which was obviously automated.

I was told something like this: The call is from the Europol police and it's about my German identity card being misused. Now they would want to talk to me. If I agree to this, please press "1" on the telephone keypad.

If you get a call from Europol about your identity card, you have the same scammers on the phone who called me.

If you get a call from Europol about your identity card, you have the same scammers on the phone who called me.

Fake call: query for name and birthday

I was torn as to whether it was a fake call or could be a real call and I pressed 1. Then a real person got in touch who I would assume has an Indian accent. She also spoke in English, but with a heavy accent.

In order to compare the data, I should first give my name and my date of birth. That struck me as odd, and my response was, "If you're the police and my ID card was misused, then you must know who I am, because you called me, after all."

The other party was a bit confused by the answer and after I heard call center background noise for about 10 seconds, I was asked if I could get my ID card to call the number. I then said that I would speak to the police and that I would certainly have my ID card.

The funny fake Europol official then hung up – clear sign: fake call. My number was apparently on the list several times, because less than two days later the same call came again. If I get a third call, I'll just name a few made-up dates and see what the goal of the calls is.

Fake call is a scam attempt

After I got the first call, I wondered what it was and looked it up on the internet. And indeed, there were already indications of this call scam:

The first source is a real Europol information page, warning of the calls in English and pointing out that Europol NEVER calls people. Here is the translation of the text:

Scammers call individuals under the pretense of representing Europol. The scammers tell their victims that they are involved in serious crimes or are the victims of a crime like identity theft. They then ask the victims to provide personal information and make payments while posing as Europol officers.

We also learned that these scammers can make it appear that their calls are from real Europol numbers. This is known as "phone spoofing," which is the use of fake caller ID information to disguise the true source of an incoming call.

This is fake! Europol will never phone citizens about such allegations or ask them to make payments!

We have been made aware of fraud attempts using fake letters claiming to come from various departments of Europol, as well as from the Executive Director, other senior officials and various international law enforcement officials. Emails and social media messages written in multiple languages ​​used the names of senior Europol officials such as Catherine De Bolle, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe and Jürgen Ebner in order to appear reputable and legitimate. Fraud attempts have also been made via forged letters sent by third-party companies pretending to act on Europol's behalf.

Do not be fooled - all these letters are fake. Neither Europol nor its staff would ever approach citizens directly, demanding immediate action or threatening to open a criminal investigation. Europol does not issue fines or contact citizens to request payment.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE AFFECTED BY THESE SCAMS

If you receive a suspicious email or phone call claiming to be from a Europol department or employee, please report the matter to your local or national police immediately. The authorities will then contact Europol if necessary. Europol does not accept reports directly from citizens and cannot investigate individual reports.

To find out where and how to report a crime, please visit the relevant section of our website. To learn how to protect yourself from such scams, check out our Cyber ​​Fraud Prevention Guide.

The second source has been Reddit because someone there has opened this thread and asked if these types of calls are real and how to behave. Here is the translation:

I have just received a call from a German mobile number claiming to be from Europol informing me that my German ID card has been misused for criminal activities. Is that a scam?

I received a call from a German mobile number. It was an automatic voice saying (in English) it was from Europol and asking me to press 1 to speak to someone as my German ID card was being misused. I did that and spoke to a gentleman who also spoke direct English to me. He said that my tax ID was misused, whereupon I asked for his ID, which he gave me: Mr. Steve Johnson with service number GP2314 from the Federal Police Berlin. I was confused as to whether it was my German ID or my tax number and pushed a bit to find out which one it was. The man got a bit aggressive in his voice and said I had to verify myself, give my full name etc. I replied that I had to speak to my lawyer. He got angry and said nobody could help me and I couldn't talk to anyone. I insisted on speaking to my lawyer (I don't actually have one). He said that they would now send a police officer to my home. i said ok Does anyone know if this is a scam or if the police are calling you directly to inform you of any fraudulent activity involving your IDs.

PS: I didn't even give them my full name or any other details.

So I wasn't the first to be called by these scammers. The BKA has already Warned of this scam at the end of 2021:

Citizens in Germany are currently receiving calls – allegedly on behalf of the Federal Criminal Police Office. On the phone, an automated voice will claim that the called party's ID needs to be checked and that you should follow the instructions to facilitate the check. Instructions follow, such as “press 1” to provide ID card information, supposedly to avert a fine.

The calls apparently come from fixed lines in Wiesbaden with the area code 0611. Various phone numbers follow, which often begin with the digits 916. Calls from mobile phone numbers were also reported to the BKA.

If you follow the instructions, you may be unknowingly redirected to premium rate numbers where you incur high charges. In addition, the perpetrators could use your personal data to order goods or commit other crimes on your behalf.

The Federal Criminal Police Office therefore advises all those called:
Don't follow directions, don't get caught up in a conversation - just hang up.
The BKA will never ask you to reveal personal data over the phone.
If you later discover that you have been scammed or that your information has been misused, file a criminal complaint with your local police station.

How do scammers get money?

So now we know for sure that this is a scam, but I was only able to find out exactly what the scammers' scam was later in an article in the "Black Forest messenger". Here it is described that you should first be frightened so that you can see that there is a dangerous situation. This works similarly to Scareware, where you get bogus error messages displayed on your computer, and then buy a tool that simply does nothing but fix errors that don't exist.

In the case of call fraud, the fraudsters naturally want to get some money, and the way is as simple as it is bold: they convince the people called that they are from Europol and that the misuse of their ID card puts the bank account of the called party at risk. In order to get the money to safety in time, you should transfer it to an account owned by the police until you have set up a new bank account.

Of course, once the money has arrived in the BKA or Europol account, the fraudsters no longer report it. And the betrayed find out much too late that they didn't call the police. Of course, the money can no longer be retrieved. What is transferred is actually lost and remains in the scammers' possession.

The scam is called "social hacking": You basically hack the person so that they do what the fraudster wants them to do: they voluntarily transfer the money to the fraudster's account.

The scam is called "social hacking": You basically hack the person so that they do what the fraudster wants them to do: they voluntarily transfer the money to the fraudster's account.

Are people that gullible?

It makes me wonder if there are still people today who are so naïve and just transfer their hard-earned money to an account that a total stranger (without showing their ID!) names them. Unfortunately, the answer has to be "yes", otherwise the scammers would no longer do the campaign.

And finally, this "scam" also occurs with real people: the scammers prefer to run to older people and tell them that they are from the police and that there has just been a break-in in the neighborhood. In order to prevent the "burglars" from getting hold of the valuables, people should put them in a small bag in front of their house at night. The "police" will then pick it up and take it to safety. And yes: This flat scam has often worked. Sad but true!

So: Watch your money, don't transfer it to anyone you don't know and prefer to close one instead Steady membership in support of my blog away. ;-)

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34 comments

  1. wrnr.ptr.krs says:

    I never answer the phone when an unknown number calls.

    If it's real and important, the person already speaks to my mailbox. This means that 95% of such calls are already settled.

    I randomly search the internet for the number and in most cases it turns out that these numbers are advertising calls or scams.

  2. Jonas says:

    2 calls are still few, I'm currently at 5. I think the number also comes from the Facebook hack.

  3. Lutz S says:

    That also happened to me recently, I got a call, but when the conversation started in English, I hung up right away.
    Unfortunately, there are still too many who fall for con artists

  4. Thorsten says:

    Had the same call yesterday.
    +491701253012 & +491735303174
    I have filed a complaint against an unknown person with phone numbers. Not that I'm expecting anything, but that's going into the statistics and maybe action is taken more quickly.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      It would be nice if something could be done about it. But I guess the numbers are just fake or are constantly renewed... Well, but still a good idea with the ad! Maybe it helps.

    • Jonas says:

      They make up the numbers, they haven't even been assigned.

  5. Alex says:

    Same happened to me today twice with these phone numbers:
    +1 917-283-9573 (New York)
    +49 172 836161

  6. Bjorn says:

    Thank you for the information! I received such a call from +49 172 5214292, but did not press 1. Interestingly, my own number also begins with 0172 / 521.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Bjorn! It's correct. My number also starts like the one that called me. Must be a psycho trick. :-(

  7. Horst Hader says:

    Hi Jens,
    I (70) often receive fake emails from Amazon, Paypal and various banks. Such calls are thankfully very rare. These scams have been around for a number of years now. Since there are usually several laptops/PCs in almost every household and are mostly used every day, including by many in my age group, I am surprised that there are still many who fall for it. Even more so where the media warns about it again and again. There seems to be a lot of levity at play here.

    Best regards
    Eyrie

  8. Lilou says:

    Hello, I just got a call and wasn't aware of the scam before I hung up as I understood I was still confirming my full name, can they use it for something else? Is this a problem?

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      No, I don't think you make any mistakes with the name. You can also get it from the phone book or from Facebook. What they want is the transfer of the money.

  9. Bhtr says:

    I received the exact same call from +49176589272. I just gave my name and he asked me for my ID number and I said I want to speak to a police officer so I will go to the police station. He immediately ended the call. Please be careful….

  10. Maria says:

    I received 10 such calls today. This is very annoying :(

  11. Matz says:

    Just received a call as well, but hung up on the English tape announcement.
    Interestingly, that was a (of course a fake) phone number from Bonn – Ministry of the Interior.
    0228-993648

  12. Tim says:

    I experienced exactly the same thing an hour ago... and at first I was SHOCKED and because of my language barrier and the loud traffic noise I was so reassured... He (+49159012021) asked me to give my name and ID card number. After hearing the number, I declined and hung up.

  13. Guru says:

    Hello, I also received the call, the number was +49151273456.
    Thank you for your post, which confirms my suspicions.
    I would never have given out personal information, but it's still helpful to get confirmation.
    I'd like to suggest updating the growing numbers at the end of the post so others can see them and the authorities might have a clue when they chime in.

  14. Patrick says:

    I just received a similar call with a robotic voice telling me to press 1 after the recorded message. I live in Sweden and it has been said that my Swedish ID card is being misused. Since I don't have Swedish citizenship and no such card, I hung up immediately as I suspected fraud. I googled out of interest and came here so thanks for confirming the scam. The phone number was strange: 0513797064
    I hope this information will help other people not to become victims of these criminals.

  15. Tulika says:

    I received a call today at 13:43 p.m. from +491747678442 telling me that my tax ID (which has not yet been assigned) is being used for money laundering in Berlin. An announcement was recorded and I should press 1.
    Why did I think it was a wrong call?
    1. They spoke in perfect English. I would have expected a German federal police officer to speak in German. (Or that at least the recorded message is in German)
    2. I don't have a tax ID yet because I only arrived in Germany 14 days ago.
    3. When I told them that I'm new in Germany and don't have a tax ID yet, they said that maybe this number has already been given to someone else who has used it for this purpose.

    Information I gave them (that I shouldn't have given)
    1. My name
    2. Where I work
    3. And where I got my phone number from

    I provided this information because I didn't realize these are common scam calls. Also, I'm new to Germany, so I didn't immediately decline the call. But I stayed calm because I knew that I don't have a tax number yet and it can't be used for money laundering in Berlin.

    After knowing that I am new in Germany they said that maybe it was someone else who used this number (I was confused if they call me or this number) and that you don't have to worry. If something happens, the government will take care of it.

    And as I was writing this message, I received the call again. Strange. Now with +491747675134

  16. John Doe says:

    Hello, thank you for your article. I received a call from "Europol" at 10:34 am on number +49159011446 claiming that my German ID was being used for scams etc. The slight Indian accent of the computer voice made me suspicious. After I didn't answer they hung up.

  17. Manuela says:

    I just received the same call Euopol, ID card used for criminal activities. +4915349439899 They asked for your name and zip code. Then they started talking nonsense about cocaine and bank accounts across Europe. I said I would contact the police here, they said they hadn't shared my file with the local police yet...then asked me to go ahead with someone else, a lawyer. I said I could solve the problem myself with the police and my own lawyers, then he ended the call.

  18. Cimmy says:

    I have received 2 calls/day for the past month.
    I've tried to block the number but my display keeps showing a different number:
    +49151 248 337;
    +49151 241 184;
    +49151 242 030;
    +49151 241 998;
    +49151 242 855; etc…
    Blocking the number doesn't work in my case...

  19. Hendrik says:

    Such a brazen ploy requires wide dispersal to find the few people who are still naïve enough to fall for it.

    I'm now already on the 3rd call and due to the poor quality of the recorded message, I only now understood what they wanted from me. "Funny" I even lost my identity card 2 weeks ago.

    Even if this is often seen by some as a touch of neglect of telephone etiquette, I no longer even answer by name, but only with a brief hello.

  20. Jonas says:

    The numbers are generated, so posting them here is not helpful.
    Answer, don't say "yes" and then hang up.

  21. ScamHunter says:

    Received a call today from +49151178876 using the same Europol scam.
    The "police officer" hung up after I asked why they ask my name when they have my ID...

  22. pixel says:

    Hi,
    just got a call today with the automatic announcement in english.
    I hung up and the number was (editor's note: numbers removed as they are fake anyway).
    That was strange to me and then in the search I found the thread here and some others also the reddit (probably the same) that was mentioned above.
    The really strange thing is that I've only had my current number for 2 months.
    LG

  23. csf says:

    Received five such calls during the day today. All numbers are the same as my own cell phone number.
    Thank you for sharing the information here.

  24. Ela Husman says:

    Received 3 calls today
    +49 188 93044202
    +49 131 94619608
    and an unknown number but same message

  25. Susie O says:

    I had 2 calls from today
    (Editor's note: numbers removed as they are fake anyway)
    As you said, an English-speaking robot from "Europol". My ID was used for fraudulent activity, press 1 for more information. I didn't press 1, I hung up. I wonder where they got my number from.

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