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Finnish police: Organised crime ring behind fake cop scam

Finnish law enforcement officials say that so far this year, there have been more than 800 reports nationwide of calls by fraudsters alleging to be police officers, urging victims to disclose their banking details.

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Police say the scammers called from an unknown number and asked victims for their online banking access information. Image: Yle

Officials from the Central Finland police department said Tuesday they suspect an organised criminal ring of masterminding a spate of attempted scams.  The scheme involves fraudsters posing as police in an attempt to get confidential banking information from their targets over the phone.

According to police, the racket has so far netted hundreds of thousands of euros.

Police said in a statement that in the large-scale operation, different players had defined roles for the criminal enterprise that was carried out across the country.

The fraudulent operation was allegedly organised so that the perpetrators and an accomplice provided with the victim’s bank account information could operate throughout the country. Police say that the con usually took place over the phone and that victims were called from an unknown number.

According to police information, the fraudsters could place hundreds of calls daily in an attempt to get persons answering the calls to divulge their bank account number and online banking login information. Once they had such information, they would attempt to clear out the victim’s account as quickly as possible.

Conmen use crime-stopper ruse

The fraudulent calls allegedly follow a specific pattern with just a few variations. The caller’s goal is to plead haste as a means of getting the mark to reveal their bank account number and online banking access information.

For example, the caller would say that the person’s account had been hacked and that police were attempting to return stolen money. In another version of the scam, the caller tells the other party that attempts are being made to access the account without permission and that police urgently need login details to prevent the attempted crime.

The suspected perpetrators are said to speak fluent Finnish and are able to modify the script depending on the victim’s responses during the call.

Police said that despite the coordinated approach, most of the attempts failed to produce a breakthrough.

Officials caution against revealing banking info

Police are warning members of the public not to disclose their banking or online banking details to strangers. Police said that they never ask customers for their banking information as they never use it.

They advise anyone who has mistakenly given out such information over the phone to immediately call the national emergency hotline at 112 so police can begin working on the case.

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