Thanks to the so-called ‘granddaughter trick’, Bavarian fraudsters stole around two million euros last year. They pretend to be family members and say they urgently need money. Until now, this has been done over the phone. One perpetrator calls the victim, the other waits outside the door and collects the money. Now the perpetrators have invented a new scam: they deal with online fraud. The initiation is via fake WhatsApp messages.
Targeted by cyber gangsters
“I got a WhatsApp: Hi mom, how are you? I thought it was from my son who was at a conference in Upper Palatinate for several days. ” Over 80-year-old Katharina T. from Upper Palatinate has no idea that she was the target of cyber gangsters that day.
Not suspecting anything, he writes back and immediately receives another message from his alleged son: “He now has a new cell phone number because he found a cheaper provider. And I should delete the old mobile number and save the new one.
Police warn of WhatsApp grandchildren trick
This is a common procedure of the perpetrators in the so-called WhatsApp scam. Munich police officer Arno Helfrich warns citizens not to fall into the trap: “Have you ever received WhatsApp in which you were not sure? This is also a current trick at the moment. “
Many people are getting questionable WhatsApp messages these days, not only the elderly but also the younger ones. Sometimes the perpetrators demand several hundred euros, sometimes thousands. Greetings are very different, from Hello Mom, Mutti, Grandma or just Servus, everything is included. Then the perpetrators quickly ask, “I have a problem. I ordered something and now I have to pay for it. But the account details are on my lost cell phone. “
Fraudsters exploiting grandchildren use trust in a targeted manner
It was the same with Katharina T. “After a short time, WhatsApp came. If I could do him a favor, I said yes and then said he had to pay the bill urgently. And now he can’t access his banking network because the data is gone. ” Her alleged son asks an unsuspecting lady: she should transfer 1,700 euros immediately.
That’s right, because she has such a trusting relationship with her children, the children would always help, now she wants to take revenge, that’s how she explains her behavior at that time. “Interestingly, it was a German IBAN. And that was a foreign name. It could be something my son could order or something he had to pay for. “
The perpetrator even demands confirmation of the transfer from the bank. Katharina T. issues a transfer, photographs it as requested, goes to the bank. And she is glad that she could – apparently – do her son a favor.
But the story turns: “I came home, the phone rang and my real son was on the phone.” The real son is sick and hasn’t been to the conference at all, as his mother assumes. A flash of happiness! The son immediately calls the bank and stops the transfer.
Check stories from relatives for credibility
The head of the Munich police department of prevention, Arno Helfrich, advises: “If you receive messages like this that a friend, relative, or anyone else has a new mobile number, try contacting them elsewhere. And please don’t get into the game.
Targeting the assets of older people
In individual cases, WhatsApp victims are scammed from several hundred to several thousand euros. An entire industry has developed and increasingly attacks the assets of older people, warns Bavaria’s Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich.
The Minister calls for greater account to be taken of the special vulnerability of elderly people related to age in the legislation in force. Anyone who specifically selects the elderly as victims and consciously exploits their weakness should expect more severe penalties. The federal government has not yet implemented Bavaria’s proposals to reform the penal code.
Be careful about information in a digital environment
For Katharina T. things ended lightly. And yet: “I didn’t suffer any damage, but it was a very unpleasant feeling. Someone has violated my privacy, someone has shown me too ”. How the perpetrators obtained Katharina T’s cell phone number from the Upper Palatinate remains a mystery.
In addition to number generators, criminals also use data that has been leaked from the dark web or use voluntary entries of cell phone numbers that users leave on platforms. Thus, saving data is a partial protection against the new WhatsApp scams.