A woman in Bern has fallen victim to an elaborate police impersonation scam, handing over CHF150,000 ($152,000) in cash to fraudsters at her own front door.
The scammers pretended to be investigators for Interpol and had contacted the victim over the phone, asking her to withdraw large sums of cash, according to the cantonal prosecution for economic crimes and the Bernese cantonal police.
The case is one of over 70 calls which have been reported by local citizens in the Bern region since mid-December.
The criminals always spoke accent-free German and claimed to be calling from the number 117 – the Swiss police emergency number. In fact, they had manipulated their own phone so that 117 did indeed appear on their targets’ phone display.
The callers claimed to be investigating a robbery or burglary and in the process of arresting the criminals, they had found the banking data of the person they were calling. They then attempted to convince the victim that they needed to safely store the victim’s valuables for them and arranged a date when any valuables or cash could be handed over to them. In this woman’s case, they succeeded.
The fraudsters have not yet been identified.
The Bernese cantonal police remind the public in cases like this that the police never call from the number 117. It is an emergency number for the whole of Switzerland and police are unable to use it to call members of the public.
The police advise people to never give out information about personal finances, data or passwords to anyone. If in doubt, suspicious calls should be reported to the police.