Marked increase in fraud and phishing CySARs

Press Release, fedpol, 27.03.2014

Berne. In 2013, its tenth year of operation, the Cybercrime Coordination Unit (CYCO) at the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) received a total of 9,208 Suspicious Activity Reports on Cybercrime (CySARs) from the public. This represents an increase of more than 11 per cent over 2012. Nearly sixty-one per cent of total reporting volume concerned offences against property, a continuing trend from the previous reporting years.

The majority of reports in 2013 concerned property offences (5,589 CySARs or 60.7 per cent of total reporting volume). The sub-category fraud made up 25 per cent of total reporting volume (2,257 CySARs).

Increase in CySARs relating to fraud on auction and classified advertising websites

The types of fraud reported to CYCO in 2013 were numerous. There was an increase in CySARs concerning attempted fraud against buyers and sellers on auction and classified advertisement websites. Fraudsters became more professional in their efforts to deceive victims, for example by creating fake websites for fictitious transport companies and whole online package tracking systems aimed at deceiving victims for as long as possible into believing that purchased or dispatched items were on their way.

Fraudsters also exploited situations such as the housing shortage in major Swiss conurbations. This gave rise to fraudulent advertisements on real estate websites, requesting upfront payment for cheap rental accommodation in Zurich and Basle that in reality did not exist.

Increase in CySARs relating to phishing attempts

There was a marked rise in the number of reported phishing attempts: CYCO received 2,208 CySARs in this category (2012: 662 CySARs), which represents more than a threefold increase over the previous reporting period. Most of these CySARs related to fraudsters sending spam to potential victims with the aim of luring them onto websites offering well-known Internet services and then inducing them to disclose their user data. Approximately one-fifth of phishing CySARs concerned attempts to obtain access data to the services of Swiss banking institutions.

Reporting volume concerning offences against sexual integrity fell considerably. The number of reports on websites containing child pornography decreased by 47 per cent, from 2,684 CySARs in 2012 to 1,414 CySARs in 2013. For the first time, the number of CySARs concerning the categories phishing and fraud was higher than the category child pornography.

Fighting paedophile crime

Besides handling online cybercrime reports from the public, CYCO also conducted its own independent search for suspect content on the Internet (preventive monitoring). As a result of these monitoring activities, 423 crime reports were submitted to the competent law enforcement authorities. The majority of these crime reports resulted from monitoring peer to peer networks, where CYCO identified 238 people who were sharing child pornography.

Another area of CYCO’s activities is undercover investigations. These investigations are based on a police co-operation agreement with Canton Schwyz. In 2013, CYCO conducted 17 undercover operations in chat rooms or on private P2P file-sharing platforms. The investigations led to the arrest of three paedophile criminals, who were grooming minors in children’s chat rooms. In 14 cases there was sufficient evidence against nine further people to send a crime report to the competent cantonal authorities.

For the first time in CYCO’s ten-year history, it was requested by several cantonal public prosecutor‘s offices to conduct undercover investigations under the Criminal Procedure Code. The investigations were carried out solely on private P2P file-sharing platforms and resulted in 168 crime reports being sent to the competent police authorities in Switzerland and abroad. The investigations are ongoing.

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