Law enforcement from Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol, have tracked down and arrested the head of a criminal network responsible for defrauding hundreds of elderly citizens.

The suspect, who has not been named, was taken into custody near London, from where he directed a network of fraudsters targeting mainly German and Polish citizens. While executing the arrest warrant issued by Polish authorities, officers seized crucial evidence such as mobile phones in the suspect’s residence. Meanwhile, German police conducted searches in five locations and seized over EUR 160,000 in cash, gold bars, and gold coins, as well as jewelry, phones, and other electronic devices.

The organized criminal network specialized in calling elderly citizens across Germany and Poland pretending to be police officers or representing other official authorities. Victims were informed that one of their relatives has been responsible for a car accident or similar event resulting in injuries or death of other persons.

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The scam caller would then hand over the phone to an accomplice, who would cry or scream into the phone frantically, imploring the victim to lend help. This approach was intended to shock the elderly person, allowing the caller to proceed with the fraudulent procedure and ask for the handover of money to avoid the fake relative’s detention.

The criminals would instruct the victim about the handover procedure, then send a person to collect the money at the victim’s doorstep. In order to minimize exposure and avoid the risk of arrest, the criminal network recruited unwitting accomplices for this task, via online job platforms.

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Over the course of the investigation, over 70 persons taking part in this scam were arrested, for instance, while they were collecting money at the victim’s homes. The overall damage amounts to around EUR 5 million and is estimated that up to EUR 1.4 million of losses could be prevented thanks to this successful takedown.

It is important to stay vigilant and protect yourself from scam calls by not sharing personal or financial information with unknown callers. Law enforcement and other officials will never ask for money or payments over the telephone or in person by showing up at your door. If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately and call the police.