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Workplace as a crime scene: Many criminals have recently been successful with the "Fake President" scam


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In times of increasing use of the home office, white-collar criminals are relying on new approaches to their actions. The credit insurer Allianz Trade warns of perpetrators who have adapted to this and are increasingly relying on "social engineering".

In social engineering, criminals exploit human characteristics such as helpfulness, trust, fear or respect for authority to manipulate people. For example, they trick the victim into making transfers. In particular, the scam, in which payment flows are diverted, has increased by 29 percent in the past year, said Allianz Trade fraud expert Rüdiger Kirsch in Hamburg.

The "fake president" scam, which has become fashionable again since last year, is also part of "social engineering". Hackers send e-mails with transfer requests to spied on employees – in the supposed name of the boss. "In 2022, there were 15 percent more cases than in the previous year, and reported losses even increased by 38 percent," said Allianz Trade expert Kirsch.

The damage runs into the billions

In terms of the amount of damage, it is even a third more than in 2021. He did not give concrete figures on the number of cases and the amount of damage. However, Kirsch expects the trend to continue this year.

White-collar crime has recently increased enormously. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the number of recorded cases of white-collar crime rose by 42.6 percent to more than 73,000 cases last year. However, almost 34,000 cases alone came from a collective procedure for an online dating platform in Schleswig-Holstein. Recently, a study by KPMG's auditors had already found an increase in white-collar crime. Working from home therefore promotes an emotional distance from the employer, which can promote crime.

Measured against all crimes reported by the police, the proportion of white-collar crime was 1.3 percent last year, according to BKA data – after 1.0 percent in 2021. The total loss amounted to a good two billion euros – 14.6 percent less than in 2021. Even though attacks from outside are increasing, most and, above all, the greatest damage is still caused by perpetrators who are employed in the respective company.