Europol strengthens efforts to tackle social engineering

28 January 2016
News Article
Press Release/News

This News/Press release is about Cybercrime

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Over 55 international experts have taken part in a global strategic meeting on social engineering, hosted by Europol at its headquarters in The Hague.

In addition to the 28 EU Member States invited, specialists from Canada (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), Colombia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland and the United States (U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service) also attended the event.

The following main topics were discussed:

  • Mass marketing fraud: a general term for frauds that exploit mass communication media, such as telemarketing and mass mailings;
  • Romance scams: where criminals hunt through chat rooms, dating sites and social networking sites looking for victims to exploit for their money. These and other related crimes are affecting and ruining lives throughout the world;
  • Elderly people fraud: where fraudulent telemarketers rob people every day, using phones as their weapons. These criminals target elderly people because they are generally too polite to hang up;
  • Pyramid fraud cases: this business model recruits members with a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments, selling products or services. The recruiting multiplies and most members do not profit;
  • Advance-fee scam is a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

Law enforcement agencies from the above-mentioned countries, and third parties like Eurojust, Interpol and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), will work closely together to fight crimes perpetrated using social engineering techniques such as these. 

CEO fraud is still a worldwide problem that generates large financial losses. Therefore, an international platform to coordinate intelligence streams and cross-border investigations, such as Europol’s newly created Focal Point Apate, brings significant added value to the battle against this type of crime.

Besides the CEO fraud threat, the other types of fraud mentioned above could also fall under the mandate of Focal Point Apate if the associated law enforcement agencies decide so. Focal Point Apate will focus on raising awareness about this type of crime and will support the law enforcement agencies in their criminal investigations, where possible.