Dozens of con artists have been arrested in Turkey for pretending to be officers to steal from Germans. Thousands of reports of the scam phone calls have been reported all over the country.
Germany's Federal Police Office (BKA), working alongside Turkish authorities, has announced the arrests dozens of suspects believed to be calling elderly Germans and pretending to be police officers, local media reported on Thursday. The perpetrators are believed to have relieved pensioners of hundreds of thousands of euros by posing as officials.
"One of our tasks is to boost international cooperation with Turkey," the BKA told DW, "...the effectiveness of this cooperation was clearly seen in December, when Turkish police carried out a number of raids based on the preliminary investigation. In Antalya Province, for example, several residences and buildings were searched in connection with the fraud commited against victims living in Germany."
"The Turkish authorities also detained several of the top and mid-level management of the call centers."
For months, city and state police forces have been warning residents to be careful of calls from con artists claiming to be from the security services:
Munich police recently issued a call for citizens to warn their elderly, isolated neighbors that not to assume anyone is a police officer unless they are standing before them with a badge:
According to the BKA, the scam ran like this: someone who spoke perfect German, but was actually located in Turkey, would use spoofing software to make it look like a call was coming from the telephone number 110, the national emergency hotline. Then, they would tell the victims that they were being targeted by thieves or home invaders. The pensioners were then advised to allow their "colleagues" to come "secure their valuables," or to transfer their money to another account.
The criminal syndicate, which worked out of the Turkish cities of Izmir, Denizli, and Istanbul, is believed to have stolen at least 780,000 euros ($879,000) from 63 German pensioners. Across Germany, more than 3,946 calls from fake police officers have been logged by the authorities.
In December, Turkish authorities arrested 58 suspects in connection with the crimes.
NRW saw its most recent case of the scam as late as Wednesday, when an 87-year-old woman in the town of Plettenberg was called by someone claiming to be from Germany's investigative BKA police force. The "officer" told her that she was suspected of money laundering and had to send away the money in cash. Luckily, the woman was slightly skeptical and told her son of the incident before she mailed her money. Her son then got in touch with police.