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Arrest in Frankfurt: Data theft via SMS – gang stole over 100,000 euros |

A gang is said to have swindled more than 100,000 euros from numerous bank customers across Germany using fraudulent SMS messages. The main suspect was arrested in Frankfurt and is now in custody.

So far, 20 people are known to have been affected, said a spokesman for the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office, which is leading the investigation. “But we assume there will be many, many more victims, at least in the three-digit range.” To do this, the investigators would first have to evaluate all the data and accounts of the suspected fraudsters.

Since spring 2023, the five-member gang is said to have tricked numerous customers into revealing their bank details using fraudulent SMS messages. The suspects are said to have sent several 100,000 computer-based messages and enriched themselves with the data.

Targeted spying

They probably used several tricks: In one variant, the SMS supposedly came from the savings bank and announced an alleged malfunction in online banking. A link took customers to a mock website where they were supposed to update their information.

In another variant, according to investigators, customers were threatened via text message with their credit card being blocked if they did not contact a clerk at a certain number. Those affected received a call from one of the perpetrators, who is said to have spied on customer data in this way.

Seven properties in Frankfurt searched

The suspects are said to have used the stolen bank details to buy cryptocurrencies, expensive electronics and gold bars worth more than 100,000 euros. A 30-year-old without residence in Germany is said to be behind the crimes. After he entered Germany from Albania, the investigators said they arrested him in Frankfurt in mid-April.

A 25-year-old woman and four men between 25 and 32 years old are said to have helped him. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the five suspected accomplices are in Germany and there are no grounds for arrest against them. The investigators searched seven properties in Frankfurt.

According to their own statements, they found numerous data and technology, several expensive handbags and designer clothing. The form of data theft on the Internet is called phishing. The name comes from the combination of the English words Password, Harvesting and Fishing.

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